Child marriage is happening in the United States. Some may assume that in the U.S., the minimum age to be married is 18 years old — but it’s actually possible to marry at a younger age in all states, as they all have exemptions to the laws that make it possible. Twenty-five states allow marriage with no age floor, meaning the consent of a parent or judge (or both) can theoretically allow the marriage of a child of any age.
Statistics compiled by PBS’s Frontline show that at least 207,468 minors were married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2015 across 44 states. The majority of minors who were married were girls; only 13% were boys. According to Frontline‘s data — which the program admits does not include every single child marriage in the U.S. — the youngest children to marry were three 10-year-old girls in Tennessee, who were married to men who were 24, 25, and 31, and the youngest groom was 11 years old and married a 26-year-old woman. Thirteen-year-olds were given the OK to marry in 14 states, according to the data, including the state I was born in: New Jersey.