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New Colorado law raises age of consent for common-law marriage

[JURIST] Colorado Gov. Bill Owens [official website] signed a bill [SB 06S-006 text, PDF] Tuesday that sets the minimum age for a common-law marriage [press release] at 18, or at 16 with judicial approval. The new law is a response to a Colorado Court of Appeals [official website] decision [text] in June that the English common law minimum age of 12 applied because Colorado had no stated minimum age for common-law marriage [JURIST report]. The new law, which will take effect on Sept. 1, is an effort to protect teenagers and to make the age of consent "consistent" with Colorado's Uniform Marriage Act [text].

The Court of Appeals held that a 15-year-old girl can enter into a common-law marriage and remanded the case for a lower court to determine whether the common-law marriage of Willis Rouse, 38, and a teenage girl was valid. The appellate court reversed a decision by a lower court that the girl, who is now over 18, was too young to marry at 15 without judicial approval. AP has more. The Rocky Mountain News has local coverage.

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