In a classic case of outdated laws, a new report reveals that Missouri marriage state laws encourage children to wed. According to the report by The Kansas Star, published in the Sunday edition, Fox News reported that Missouri has now become the favourite state for under-age teens to get married.

Although the number of under-age children, under the age of 18, flocking to Missouri for marriage has seen a downward trend, experts warn that there is an urgent need to revise the state's marriage laws. The report revealed that in most states, persons under the age of 18 can get married, but there is a minimum age limit and other requirements that discourage Child Marriages, and these strict requirements that are absent in Missouri laws.

Varying marriage state laws

In states that allow child marriages like New Hampshire, where children as young as 13 can walk down the aisle, there are other stringent requirements; one is consent from both parents, and two, a judge's approval.

In North Carolina, for a 14-year-old to get married, a judge's approval is mandatory and the bride-to-be must be pregnant or already a mother, while 16 and 17-year-olds must have approval from both parents.

In contrast, Missouri State laws only require one parent's approval for 15-17 year-olds to wed, even if one parent disapproves of the marriage. Furthermore, children below the age of 14 years only require a judge's approval and there is no minimum age limit set for marriage.

The latter is what makes the state a haven for child marriages.

Hope for child brides

In an interview with The Kansas Star, Pam Strawbridge, who has issued marriage licences in Pemiscot County for the past four decades, agreed that 15-year-olds are still minors who are not ready for marriage. Strawbridge added that despite her opinion, her hands were tied by the state's laws.

Strawbridge gave an example of her grandma who got married at the age of 13 and raised 11 children, noting that it was a different era then, and child marriages were normal.

There is hope for Missouri's outdated marriage laws, though, as local politicians have swung into action to revise the archaic marriage laws. A month ago, a bill sponsored by Republican Rep.

Jean Evans proposed a ban on marriages for persons under the age of 14. The bill, currently on its way to the Senate, also proposes more stringent marriage requirements for 15-17-year-olds, who will need a judge's approval and a court hearing to be able to get married, if the bill becomes law.

Statistics in the US are worrying; according to an organization which advocates against child marriages, Unchained at Last, 248,000 child marriages took place between 2000 and 2010.