Houston Matters

Underage Marriage Laws in Texas Change Starting Sept. 1

(Above: Frankie Ortega’s mother was forced to get married when she was 14. Photo Courtesy: Frankie Ortega) In Texas, a child — no matter what age — can get married as long as a judge approves it. And 16- and 17-year-olds can marry as long as they have parental consent. But all that changes Sept.1, 2017. Gov. Greg […]

Frankie Ortega's mother pictured in the 1970s with the man she married at age 14. He was 21. Photo Courtesy: Frankie Ortega.(Above: Frankie Ortega’s mother was forced to get married when she was 14. Photo Courtesy: Frankie Ortega)

In Texas, a child — no matter what age — can get married as long as a judge approves it. And 16- and 17-year-olds can marry as long as they have parental consent.

But all that changes Sept.1, 2017.

Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed a bill that bans child marriage. Starting in September, no one under the age of 16 will be able to get married in Texas. Those ages 16 and 17 could still wed — but only with a judge’s approval.

But maybe you’re asking yourself, “Is this really even necessary? Are people still getting married that young?” Or maybe you’re wondering “isn’t that something that only happens in faraway countries?”

You’d think so. But, for Houston Chronicle digital producer Frankie Ortega, it happened not all that long ago much closer to home. In the 1970s, her own mother was forced — by her mother — to get married at the age of 14 in Orange, Texas, to a man who was 21.

We revisit Ortega’s conversation from 2016 with Michael Hagerty about her mom’s story, which she wrote about in the Chronicle.

MORE:
A Child Bride in Texas (Houston Chronicle, Jan. 27, 2016)
Former Child Bride Changes Marriage Laws in State (Houston Chronicle, June 18, 2017)
Abbott Signs Measure That Tightens State Law on Child Brides (Texas Tribune, June 16, 2017)

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Abner Fletcher

Producer Assistant

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