what are the laws for marriage

if i want to marry my gf at the age of 18 but want to do it secretly would i get married by the church or by court if i do it by court does she automaticaly become my dependent?

Secret from whom? If you want to claim your wife as a dependant on your taxes, you obviously can’t keep it a secret from the IRS.

Assuming you want to keep it secret from your families, why not just get married in the next state, county, etc.? Unless your families regularly run public record searches, how will they find out?

As far as church v. state goes, most states let you do either, but the usual practice (I believe) is to get a marriage license in advance of a religous ceremony.
I imagine the license would be publicly recorded.

Even if your state recognizes religous ceremonies w/o a license, how will you document your marriage if necessary?
i.e. do you want it to be such a secret that if you die, your spouse will have great difficulty claiming social security benefits?

#include <standard disclaimer about legal advice>

The word “dependent” has different meanings in different contexts. If you mean does your wife become your dependent for purposes of the federal income tax, the answer is: probably not. She would have no have almost no income, and you, as opposed to, for example, her parents, had to have provided more than half of her support for the year. You can file a joint return (much better than a dependency deduction, assuming she has considerably less income than you do) for the year you got married.

Each state has slightly different laws about marriage. If you tell me what state you are in, I can probably refer you to the marriage laws of that state. From this table it appears that you can get married without parental consent in any U.S. state at age 18 except Nebraska (and Puerto Rico).

You should be able to have the marriage solemnized (performed) by either a clergy member or an authorized civil official (what officials are authorized depends on state law, though most judges are usually authorized), and if you are both over 18 (19 in Nebraska) there should be no problem doing so without providing specific notice to anyone (though your marriage license may become a public record, if anyone requests it from the county clerk or other recording agency).

As Synergist pointed out, what a “dependent” means varies greatly by context. If you are married, the law of most states will impose on both spouses an obligation of mutual support. In addition, I would imagine that the U.S. military would recognize a spouse under any valid marriage to be a dependent of the military sponsor. Similarly, if you are legally married, I believe that you must file as such on your U.S. tax return, and I believe this may affect whether she may be claimed as a dependent on her parents’ return.

If you give more details, including the relevant state, I may be able to provide more information.

Perhaps there should be a law against marraige for people that post their question in run-on sentences without capitalization and improper punctuation.

I’m sure I just broke some English law there, but then again I’m not trying to get married anytime soon. :slight_smile: