A Florida man was recently sentenced to 180 days in jail for contempt of court for giving his 16-year-old son permission to get married in an apparent attempt to avoid being sent to a boarding school out of state. The case is part of a long-running divorce dispute between the man and his former wife, who shared child custody.
The son is described in court records as troubled due to Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In 2010, his mother asked the court to order the son to attend a "therapeutic" boarding school as recommended by an educational expert. The judge agreed and gave the order to have the father send the son to the school by December 2010.
But before that due date, the father and son travelled to Las Vegas along with the 18-year-old daughter of the father's housekeeper. She and the 16-year-old got married the day after his birthday without his mother's knowledge. Though the boy's parents shared child custody, Nevada law allows minors to get married with the permission of just one parent.
The marriage emancipated the boy, meaning that he became a legal adult and was no longer subject to his mother's control. Prosecutors said the marriage was a sham meant to circumvent the court order to attend the boarding school, which does not accept married students. Testimony from the father's trial suggested that the boy and his wife do not currently live together.
Still, it appears that the marriage is still legally valid. Whether the son and his wife will remain together remains to be seen.
Source: Miami Herald, "Fisher Island man jailed for marrying off teen son during divorce proceedings," David Ovalle, July 12, 2012