There was (is technically as of the date of this post - June 26, 2016) a time when children could get married here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The exceptions provided by law to anxious underage newlyweds included parental or guardian consent or pregnancy for those even younger than 16. It wasn't really all that difficult and it happened more frequently than you might imagine.

Well, effective July 1, 2016, the only exception that permits underage hopefuls to get married is emancipation. That technically existed before; however, it is now the only way a child can get married. Unemancipated children simply cannot get married in Virginia.

So, what does this mean? Not much, really. Technically (and legally) underage children should not be getting married, let alone pregnant. Underage children should not be rearing themselves or other children. Adult parents should be doing the heavy lifting and nowhere in the book of parenting is there a chapter on raising the children of your own underage children.

The last thing I want to be is judgmental. I am the product of an underage romance and marriage. But like others in my situation, I am also the product of an underage divorce with half siblings from a total of four different marriages. I turned out just fine, as do many like me, but the struggles of underage parents raising children on their own without the maturity and life skills acquired by just a few more years of being a child are real.

While I can appreciate the former exceptions created by lawmakers years ago, I'm not so sure they're getting it wrong this time around. Marriage is more than a legal contract and marriage with children - even more. It's a really big deal. If you're under the age of 18 and you're lucky enough to have already found your soulmate, what difference would an extra year or two make in the grand scheme of things? Just something to consider. What are your thoughts on the new law? Is age really just a number? When is a person truly old enough to handle marriage and children?

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