Ask most people who have been involved in a divorce with children and they will probably agree that issues over child custody were the most difficult and contentious part of the divorce. Unfortunately, child custody issues do not always settle down once the divorce process is complete. Many divorced couples often continue disagreeing over parenting issues and it is not uncommon for one or both parents to file for child custody modification.
However, there appears to be one legal loophole some parents of teenagers are using that not only crushes any further child custody hearings, but likely causes emotional harm to that child in the long-term – consenting to the teen getting married.
Under Illinois law, an individual must be at least 18 years of age in order to legally marry. But Illinois law – as well as many other states in the country – allows 16- to 18-year-old teens to get married as long as they have the written consent of one parent.
And based on national statistics, many parents do consent. One major human rights organization estimates that almost 300,000 minors were married in this country between the years 2000 and 2018.
There have been multiple studies conducted that reveal the many reasons why teen marriages are harmful to the children involved. However, some parents who are involved in custody battles are consenting to their teens getting married as a way to shut down any further legal say the family courts – or the child’s other parent – has. In some cases, parents have consented to their teen getting married in order to stop any changes in parenting time or to prevent the other parent from moving away with the child. Once the teen is “legally” married, there is usually nothing the other parent can do because no laws are being broken, even if the marriage itself is a “sham.”
While allowing a teen to marry just to avoid a modification in child custody may seem extreme, the loophole in Illinois law that allows it does exist. There are many other ways that one parent can make it difficult for the other parent to exercise their parental rights and enjoy the parenting time they have been legally awarded in the most current child custody order issued by the court.
If you are having custody issues, contact J. Aldrich Law, P.C. at 630-953-3000 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Naperville, IL child custody attorney and find out what legal options you may have.