Texas lawmakers pass proposal to clarify when people can get married

Lawmakers passed a law that makes it very difficult for minors to move forward with marriage.

Lawmakers in Texas recently passed a proposal that is designed to make it more difficult for minors to get married in the state. The move comes after data from the Pew Research Center shows that Texas ranks second in the nation for the number of teens ranging in age from 15 to 17 that were married.

The reasons behind these young marriages vary. Some may find love when they are young and choose to walk down the aisle, others may be coerced into the marriage, forced by their parents or others to marry an older partner.

What about those who wish to marry for love? The proposal does not remove the possibility of marriage for young couples. Those who are looking to marry for love are likely to be able to move forward with their nuptials. A recent piece in the Star-Telegram discussed this conundrum, noting that the law allows for "genuine, loving couples" to either wait until they are older to get married or get emancipated.

Emancipation is a legal process that essentially provides a minor with the same legal rights as an adult. Receiving this status is thought to reduce the risk of a coerced marriage.

What if the individual that wishes to marry cannot appear personally? The court generally requires that the minor individual wishing to receive a court order allowing for emancipation to move forward with a young marriage appear in the court to receive the order in person. If, for some reason, this individual cannot appear in person another may apply on behalf of the young individual. This substitute must provide a notarized affidavit and proof of identity of the absent applicant in order to move forward with the request.

What is the status of this proposal? The law was passed by both the Texas Senate and House. It was sent to the Governor. The Governor can sign the proposal into law, veto it or allow it to move forward and become law without a signature.

Although the Governor has a good deal of power over the laws passed in the state, the Governor's word is not final. A two-thirds majority from each house could override a veto.

What about those who are married, but wish to get divorced? For those who are unhappy in their marriage, whether married young or not, divorce is an option.

There are many legal issues that can arise during a divorce. As such, those who are considering moving forward with a divorce are wise to seek legal counsel. An experienced lawyer can advocate for your interests, working to better ensure a successful transition to post-divorce life.