Marriage Requirements Basics: Consent, Age, and Capacity

marriage lawConsent

Consent is an important requirement for a valid marriage. The spouses must consent or agree to get married. For a valid consent, the spouses must agree to the marriage after having understood the nature of the relationship they are entering into. The consent must be freely given without any force. Once there is free consent, the couple will be considered as husband and wife.


All states have a minimum age requirement. This will apply to both spouses. If the persons intending to get married are below the minimum age, they must obtain parental permission. In all states (except Mississippi and Nebraska), the minimum age for marriage is 18. In Nebraska it is 19 while in Mississippi it is 21.

Those who are under the minimum age can marry subject to parental permission but they too must be over a certain age. In most states, a person aged 16 and under the minimum age of marriage can get married with parental consent. In some states, this age can be as low as 14.


The parties must have the mental ability to become a married couple. They must be of sound mind and must be capable of consenting to the marriage. Some mental illnesses and insanity can affect a person’s capacity to enter into a marriage. The test is to determine if the parties have the capacity to understand the nature of the relationship they are planning to enter into. Impotency and other physical incapacity does not make a person incapable of entering into a marriage nor does it void a marriage that has taken place.

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