Legal Question in Family Law in New Mexico

Hiya, I’m a 17 year old girl. I’m stuck in a really difficult place right now with my situation that’s led me nowhere. I want to file for emancipation, but I can’t do it without proof that I can live by myself- however, I wouldn’t be by myself because I’d move in with my fiance’s family, and though I have a job I don’t make enough to live independently.

Then I read that emancipation is granted with minor marriage- great, I have a fiance and we were planning on getting married when we turned 18 anyways. Except it turns out for a minor to marry they need parental permission.

I can’t get that permission. Why? Because my parents are problematic and emotionally/psychologically abusive, meaning that asking would land me in a huge amount of hot water. This is why I want to move out. So now I’m stuck in a paradox- I can’t find this answer anywhere.

Can an exception be made if the minor cannot get parental consent to marry?

Asked on 9/30/19, 10:39 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

George Chandler Chandler Law of Los Alamos

Here's the way I read the law on your situation. The prohibition on county clerks issuing marriage licenses to persons 16 or 17 does not apply to emancipated minors. See New Mexico Statutes Annotated (NMSA) 40-1-6. However the statute does prohibit persons who may solemnize a marriage from knowingly uniting persons 16 or 17 years of age without permission of the parents, and that clause does not mention emancipation. These two clauses in one sentence of that statute are contradictory and someone could presumably decline to marry you even if you have a license. You could end up in court on that!

Except for some circumstances that apparently don't apply to you, you become emancipated by getting a declaration of emancipation from a court. The requirements are, "willingly living separate and apart from his parents, guardian or custodian, is managing his own financial affairs and the court finds it in the minor's best interest." NMSA 32A-21-4. Nothing like what you described.

There is a list of things you can do when you're emancipated - see NMSA 32A-21-5. The court can partially emancipate you for some of those things but not all if it chooses. Marriage is not explicitly on that list but would be covered by the contract clause (marriage is a contract), and the statutory provision I mentioned above also takes care of that. Just show the county clerk your emancipation declaration.

You can find the statutes online at

If you feel you're being abused by your parents then you can call the child abuse hotline and the Children, Youth and Families Department and an investigator will look into it. 1-855-333-7233.

That said, I would urge you not to rush into marriage. I know it's hard now but you have lots of time to get married and it would be good for your marriage and your kids if you get some life experience and some higher education before you get married.

You can call me at 505 280-3110 if you want to chat about this.

Read more
Answered on 9/30/19, 6:13 pm

Related Questions & Answers

More Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody and Adoption questions and answers in New Mexico