A number of Texas laws went into effect on Friday, Sept. 1, as typically the trend following the 140-day biennium Texas Legislative session.
One law particular law, while effective state-wide, could have an impact to residents in Yoakum County.
The law — Senate Bill 1705 — which relates to the “application for, and, issuance of a marriage license and the marriage of a minor.”
Previous provisions of the law allowed for parental consent to be sufficient for securing a license and marriage of a minor in the State of Texas.
The new law, however, requires more.
The new mandate does away with the former rules and requires any person under the age of 18, requesting a license for the purposes of marriage in the state of Texas, to obtain a court order removing the minority status from those individuals deemed underage.
A certified copy of the court order must be presented when applying for marriage licenses, which are issued only by the Yoakum County Clerk’s Office inside the Yoakum County boundaries.
In addition, the effective statute renders void any marriage if either party to the marriage is younger than 18 years of age and has failed to obtain the required court order.
SB 1705 was created by Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, as a way to create a statutory floor for marriage in Texas.
According to the Huffington Post, Texas has the highest number of child marriages in the country, with nearly 40,000 children under age 18 married from 2000 to 2014, the latest year for which data is available. On average, around 2,000 children are married in the state each year.
With the new law, Texas has become the second state in the country — following Virginia last year — to close any legal loopholes and limit marriage to legal adults, 18 and older, or court-emancipated minors 16 and over.
While most states technically don’t allow anyone under 18 to marry, loopholes in state laws mean that minors still can marry fairly easily, according to the Pew Research Center. In more than 30 states, 16-year-olds can get married with parents’ permission, and younger children can get married with a judge’s consent.