This was added to Null & Void on February 27, 2018:
Underaged marriage is a serious problem within the United States (and other parts of the world,) and Null and Void touches on this current practice. Yes, it’s a current practice in the United States.
When I wrote the book, my intention was to bring this practice to light, taking what is (questionably) the best-case scenario and using it to showcase the issue, which at its base level, is horrific.
In Texas, current laws allow estranged (IE, runaway) children to marry anyone they choose as long as they are 16 years of age or older. In Null and Void, I changed this law to 15 with parental consent, which is a current law in the following states: Hawaii, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Washington.*
Washington requires a superior court judge waiver.
Many other states allow 16 with parental consent. There are states with younger than 15. Tennessee has a history of marrying ten year old girls to adult men.
In the case of pregnancy, the following states have no limitations on the age a girl can be married: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Massachusetts.
Georgia, Maryland, and a handful of other states have rulings on pregnant girls being married at 14 or 15+ years of age (with or without parental consent.) The rules vary by state.
This arc was not a mistake. It was not a glorification of the issue, either.
It is a social commentary about how current laws can dramatically harm our society. The Royal States world is a post-dystopian society that embraced elements of extremism.
Before change can happen in the Royal States world, it must be faced.
In the Captive King, this issue is revisited, and some of the more astute readers will be able to identify the shift against child marriage in the society.
In A Guiding Light, this issue is faced in blunt clarity, beginning the end of the practice.
Including this arc was not a decision made lightly.
For more information on the problem of child marriage in the United States, American Child Bride is a book you may wish to check out of the library or order from your favorite bookstore. It touches on the history of this issue.
However, you can simply verify the truth on google or with your local government law offices. While I don’t typically recommend wikipedia, due to the easy nature of age verifications for marriage, it’s a good starting point for those interested in understanding the issues and current laws.
Thirty-six states permit minors to be married if they meet certain requirements. These requirements vary but may include pregnancy (consensual or otherwise,) parental consent, and common law circumstances.
Disclaimer: Laws change on a yearly basis, so these rulings were valid at the time this afterword was written.