DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- A 15-year-old girl can enter into a common-law marriage in Colorado, a state appeals court ruled Thursday. Younger girls and boys may also be able to marry.
While the three-judge panel stopped short of setting a specific minimum age for such marriages, it said they could be legal for girls at 12 and boys at 14 under English common law, which Colorado recognizes.
The ruling overturned a lower-court judge's decision that a girl, who is now older than 18, was too young to marry when she was 15. The panel said there was no clear legislative or statutory guidance on common-law marriages, and that Colorado courts have not determined an age of consent.
Colorado is one of 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, that recognize common-law marriage, which is based on English law dating back hundreds of years.
For traditional ceremonial marriage, Colorado law sets the minimum age at 18, or 16 with parental or judicial approval.
"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 said. "Nevertheless, we need only hold here that a 15-year-old female may enter into a valid common-law marriage."
Details here from the AP via CNN.