New Civilization News: A common-law marriage in Colorado between a 14-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl    
 A common-law marriage in Colorado between a 14-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl8 comments
16 Jun 2006 @ 16:05, by Frank Astry

By Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News
June 16, 2006
A common-law marriage in Colorado between a 14-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl is possible in the wake of an appellate court ruling Thursday.
That's the potential fallout from a Colorado Court of Appeals decision that overturned a lower court finding that 15 is too young for a girl to enter into common-law union.

"This is a real shocker," said Stephen Harhai, a Denver attorney and past chairman of the family law section of the Colorado Bar Association. "Under this action, this means your 12-year-old can, with whomever, say, 'I intend to be married to you,' and that's it, (they're) married. That's a little shocking."

The decision by a three-judge panel reversed a Weld County case in which a judge ruled that a 15- year-old girl was too young to consent to a common-law marriage.

It does not affect state law regarding "statutory" or conventional marriage in Colorado, which sets the minimum marriage age at 16 and requires either parental or judicial approval for 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds.

The Weld County case that sparked Thursday's decision involves a girl known in legal documents as J.M.H., who started living with Willis Lee Rouse in April 2002 when she was 14 and Rouse was 34.

Rouse is now a 38-year-old inmate at the Fremont Correctional Facility, serving four years for stalking and escape. J.M.H. recently turned 18.

Weld County Attorney Bruce T. Barker declined to discuss the original case in detail because J.M.H. is still the subject of an ongoing dependency and neglect action brought by the Weld County Department of Human Services.

Thursday's appellate court ruling stopped short of firmly establishing a minimum age for common-law unions. It noted, however, that Colorado recognizes English common law, which legalizes such marriages at age 12 for girls and 14 for boys.

"Previously, Colorado law did not set an (minimum) age" for common- law unions, Harhai said. "That's why this is a new precedent."

Harhai said that, while surprising, the appellate decision was not logically or legally flawed and was in line with other established Colorado law.

Therefore, said Harhai, it would likely require action by the state legislature if Coloradans are uncomfortable with the result of Thursday's ruling.

In fact, the ruling seemed to offer an "invitation" to legislative correction, Harhai said, by including the phrase "in absence of a statutory provision to the contrary."

In Rouse's appeal, he stated that he and J.M.H. began living together in April 2002 and applied for an Adams County marriage license a year later.

The girl achieved legal independence by April 2003, but her mother consented to the marriage, according to the ruling, and went with her daughter and Rouse to the county clerk's office to get a license.

A license was issued, but Weld County District Judge James Hartmann granted a motion by the Weld County Department of Human Services to invalidate the marriage. He ruled that those under age 16 must have judicial approval for either common-law or ceremonial marriage.

The appellate court, however, agreed with Rouse that he could legally marry J.M.H. It didn't conclude whether she and Rouse have a legal marriage, returning the case to the trial judge to settle that question.

Rouse is in prison in connection with a December 2002 arrest for sexual assault on a child. Westminster police arrested him for allegedly having sex with a girl who was living with him at the time, a police report said.

The girl became pregnant, but told investigators she did not have sex with Rouse and that the father of the child was someone else. Police removed her from Rouse's home and returned her to her mother, and the case was reported to Adams County Social Services, the report said.

According to court records, Rouse pleaded guilty to a stalking charge in the case, and all sexual assault charges were dropped. He was sentenced to four years.

Colorado is one of 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, that acknowledge common-law marriage. Pennsylvania recently elected not to recognize common-law marriages after Jan. 1, 2005.

"It appears that Colorado has adopted the common-law age of consent for marriage as 14 for a male and 12 for a female, which existed under English common law," the ruling stated. "Nevertheless, we need only hold here that a 15-year-old female may enter into a valid common-law marriage."

English common law is the traditional unwritten law of England, based on custom and use, which began developing hundreds of years before the founding of the United States.



brennanc@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2742 Staff writer Tillie Fong contributed to this report.


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8 comments

16 Jun 2006 @ 16:42 by bushman : Hmm,
I personaly agree, that in certine conditions, common law is the way to go.  


16 Jun 2006 @ 20:02 by enora : For children?
Children, that's what they are at 12 and 15, are not capable of handling the responsibility of marriage and sex and children. Sorry, I don't know what Colorado was thinking in making this new law - catering to Mormons, maybe? Children at the age of 12 should not be having sex. Kids don't know what they're doing - their hormones are running wild and they're in fantasy land. Think back to when you were that age. Were you ready for marriage? Yuck. I don't think most adults are! lol  


16 Jun 2006 @ 22:38 by martha : I think it is disgusting
what Colorado did making it legal for a 12 year old to be in a common law marriage. You are still a child at 12. This reeks of child abuse and obviously Colorado supports such behavior. This also supports pedophilia. Colorado must be real proud of this.  


17 Jun 2006 @ 04:35 by bushman : Lots,
of cultures, consider that once you turn 13, your an adult. And they can try you as an adult for a crime, under certine curcomstances at 13. Leagal marrying age in Hawaii is 14. Fact is they do have sex even younger than 13. No, back when I was that old, there wasnt sexy TV shows with content such as today. This is more the problem, day time TV, kids get home and watch soft porn. Id of lived with a chick sooner than 17, thats when I shacked up with my ex wife. As well they are talking "common law marriage", this means, you have to of been already living together for a few years. Some places its as little as 3 years, then I think here in the USA it's normaly 5,7 or 10 years. Surly yes, lol, at 13, I would of loved being taught how to have sex by an older woman. Now I'm over 40 and don't know what women like in bed, not that I have time to be datting and stuff. Guess I was born too soon, lol. But regardless of the whole issue, if a kid is wanting to have sex, they will do just about anything, to get it. I had a friend that told me his 12 year old daughter grabed some 23 year old guy off the street had sex everyday for a year with him till she got pregnant, and he found out about it 3 months before the baby was due. Now the question here is, if the guy gets locked up for having sex, is getting locked up going to help anyone? At least the common law thing, would, make it so daddy could stay around to help with the kid. Maybe Colorado figures it will have more kids to send off to war?  


17 Jun 2006 @ 14:16 by martha : Bushman
The reason it is allowed in Colorado is so some Mormons can continue to practice polygamy. Men force young women into marriages with their friends. Often times the young men are forced out of the community so they aren't in competition with these older men that want to have many young wives. This behavior has been going on in parts of Colorado for over a hundred years.

And so what if other cultures allow this to happen. This is america and I think we are a better country for allowing our young women to grow up and educate themselves and not be forced to start having families when they are still teen agers.

And so what if there is more sexually oriented stuff on TV. A very recent survey found that teens are actually having less sex then they were a few years ago. It is all about honoring and respecting oneself and others. But when a girl is forced into sex at 12 or 13 that is child abuse.

And as far as your example goes, where is the responsibility of that man. To keep his pants zipped. He deserves to go to jail and that girl obviously needs help and good parenting. Your friend is only making excuses for not nurturing the daughter in a more responsible manner.

Furthermore thinking it is OK for a young girl to have sex and/or marry is just another example of men dominating women and using them. Remember it is the men that make the laws and they are the ones benefitting....it certainly isn't the women in this case. Just because other states allow this or it is old English law doesn't make it morally right. It is simply another example of putting women in a position of powerlessness and controlling them from an early age.  



17 Jun 2006 @ 16:09 by bushman : Sorry,
I don't agree, it's far better to give the guy the chance to do the right thing, sure, if it's a forced thing, that is rape. Common law marriage has nothing to do with forced sex, more often then not, it's the female, that initiates it. Sorry, as well, just about every law in the USA, defiles nature, humans are to never think of themselves as animals, but it's a fact, humans are animals. In nature, children would have sex like rabbits, but are taught that it's dirty, ungodly, I could say you head a religious war, fundimentalist Christian, against, fundimentalist Mormons a "limted small group". Right, the kids are haveing less sex, and more oral sex, most kids don't consider oral sex, sex. Again I will say that if you put 2 kids together with no outside interferance, they will be having sex, by the time they turn 11 or 12, I will also say it dosnt matter, it can be 2 boys or 2 girls. And if you tell them "don't have sex" they will go out and have sex just because you said it was not allowed. I'm just saying, I've had more girls sneek out at night and visit me, than times I snuck out to visit them. You say it's about male domination, and I say it's like this because kids are horny, and do whats natural. As for some old guy begiling the girl, thats called a "life lesson", because life has never been fair, and never will be fair. Still the Mormon brainwashing thing is so isolated, it dosnt even come close to the average happenings. Seems the USA will be a government of inquasision, and fear. Love is love, when you pass a law limiting love and how it will be played out, won't help the majority. The UN wants to lower the sex laws to 6 years old, and back, child with adult sex. In Japan, teachers have sex with thier students and even parents hire a hooker for them, because it gives them a higher grade point average, what the japanees are saying , "ok, we know your horny, lets take care of it, so you can focuse on your school work. Look it up, is true. Also your pretty sure it's all about Mormons and male domination, why do you think that? When they are miniscule group. Whats wrong with haveing a few wives, when most americans go thru 2-3 mariages in thier life time, your view is just one at a time is ok, but its wrong to let all the ex wives live with the man. As well, the majority of devorced people, still have sex with thier ex's, after the mariage is desolved. Personaly I don't belive in mariage at all, if you want to live together, and youve been together for a few years, you should be able to get the benifits of being married, like, by then you would have common property you purchased together, and health benifits, kids maybe. No human on this planet has the right to push thier morrals on anyone, you can only judge whats morraly right for you, personaly. Laws against human nature are imorral as far as Im concerned. Being a fundimentalist should be against the law.  


22 Jun 2006 @ 19:48 by enora : Canada is going the opposite way
CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) -- Seeking to crack down on sexual predators in the era of the Internet, Canada's government brought in legislation Thursday would raise the legal age of consent for sex to 16 from an unusually young 14.

Justice Minister Vic Toews said changing the law will bring Canada's standards into line with those in several other countries, and he complained Canada's relatively low age of consent has attracted sexual criminals from more restrictive countries.

But the proposal, first outlined in April, will also allow youngsters to have consensual sex with people up to five years older or younger, even if that means one partner is aged 14 or 15.

"Our goal in this legislation is not to criminalize teenage youth who may be involved in sexual activity with their peers," Toews told reporters in Ottawa. "It is to make the law more effective in protecting vulnerable young people from adult sexual predators."

Consent standards vary around the world in terms of age, gender and sexual orientation. In most U.S. states, the age of sexual consent is at least 16 and in some cases -- Arizona is one example -- it is as old as 18.

Toews predicted that the move would find broad support among Canadians, with police forces across the country and with lawmakers from all political stripes.

However, some advocacy groups, including the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, have already expressed concern about changing the law in this way.

The federation, formerly Planned Parenthood, has said there is no evidence that raising the age of consent will improve protection for young people, and warned it may discourage young people from seeking out birth control options or other assistance.

Toews introduced legislation in the House of Commons Thursday, the last day of proceedings before Parliament's summer break, so debate will start only after Parliament resumes on September 18.  



27 Dec 2006 @ 01:37 by Karina @219.173.254.117 : No subject
I think it's very disgusting to have places advocate marriage at such a young age.
And I don't understand how so many Americans like the idea of teenagers, preteens and people barely over 20 rushing into marriage.
Perhaps that's why the marriage age is low compared to Europe and some parts of Asia?
Perhaps that's why people have more children in America than the rest of the developed world?
I live in Japan, where you need to be 20 to get married without official legal parental consent paperwork.(20 is when you are legally considered an adult here; you need to be 20 to vote, drink, and smoke cigarettes as well.) 16 to 19 year old girls, and 18 and 19 boys can TECHNICALLY get married if they want to, but statistics and Census shows that the teen marriage rate (ie, people married at the age of 19 or younger) is extremely rare. Even though the laws saying that 16 to 19 year olds can technically get married are still on the books, most people don't get married that young. In fact, the median marriage for men in Japan is about 29 or so, for women, it's about 27 or 28.
A growing number of people choose to not marry at all.
Even those who do get married usually have few children. Many young couples do not want to raise children, or only want 1 or 2.

It's said that half of women entering their 30s here in Japan have never been married.
More and more Japanese people are finding that you do not have to be married to have long-term romantic relationships. They are finding things like in-laws, children, paying each others bills together, and such tiring and messy.
I think America over glamourises marriage too much. There's nothing wrong in wanting to get married in itself, but I think America acts too much like a person has to be married no matter what, and that a person should not be able to fall in love unless you are legally married to that person.
Ironically, those same Americans are often vehemently opposed to allowing GLBT people gain civil unions rights or marriage rights.
In Japan, even though most people don't advocate gay marriage (in general, among straights and gays, the attitude about marriage is that it's an option, and marriage isn't everything in life), there aren't a lot of bigots who vehemently and vocally oppose it.
I think more Americans should open up their minds to life.
You do not need to be married to live a life.
You do not need to be married to have a healthy, monogamous romantic/sexual relationship with somebody.
I find it disgusting that so many Americans would advocate teen marriage and marriage involving minors, as well as Americans acting like marriage is everything in life.
That's why I find life in Japan as a single 19 year old to be wonderful.
My mother is 41, she is divorced, and never wants to remarry again. My uncle is 43 and has never been married. My mother's cousin, who is female, got married when she was 30. The other three of my mother's cousins have never been married as well. But they're all happy in life in their own ways.
Despite the fact that you can get married without parental consent at age 20 here, most 20 year olds aren't married, neither are they in a hurry; they believe that marriage isn't everything in life.  



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