Colombian Supreme Court rules minors can marry or cohabit with an adult without parental consent

Pareja. Credit: Jakob Owens / Unsplash Pareja. Credit: Jakob Owens / Unsplash

The Supreme Court of Colombia ruled last week that minors between 14 and older can choose, without parental consent, legally to marry or cohabit with an adult if they have the “responsible intention” to form a family.

The Aug. 18 ruling deals with an inheritance lawsuit regarding whether there was a de facto marriage between a 14-year-old boy and an adult woman who later died.

For the court, “those over fourteen and under eighteen years of age”  can, “according to their age and maturity,” decide “about their own lives and assume responsibilities.”

“No one else could be the master of their destinies. So they should be considered free and autonomous persons and with full rights,” the text states.

Jesús Magaña, president of the pro-life and pro-family platform Unidos por la Vida, warned of the serious dangers involved in the court’s decision.

Speaking Aug. 25 with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, Magaña said, “we really view with great concern how the courts, in this case the Supreme Court, have begun to legislate. That’s the serious point: they are creating and inventing rights and ignoring existing legislation.”

"We have here a critical situation that everyone understands easily: a 14-year-old does not have all the tools or the psychological or physical maturity to make a commitment to permanent life options, such as staring a family," the pro-life leader said.

Magaña warned that the ruling “also opens a very critical and very dangerous door, which is that 14-year-old children can have relationships with adults. Eventually this could create the danger of pedophile relationships.”

Speaking to the Colombian television network Caracol, child psychiatrist Álvaro Franco explained that 14-year-old adolescents are not mature enough to marry, agree to cohabit, or start a family.

“At this age, clearly there is not the complete maturity of the nervous system nor, therefore, of the personality, that is to say, it changes very frequently. You change your partner, you change your career option,” the specialist pointed out.

For Magaña, the Supreme Court ruling “unnecessarily opens a door when there is already consensus and clear legislation in this regard. I think it is a licentious desire for freedom, without being based on what is better or more appropriate for the person.”

In his opinion the high court's ruling reflects a lack of help and concern for minors, since “they are left exposed to a decision that can be made under pressure or without enough information and that will affect the rest of their lives.”

Magaña told ACI Prensa since the ruling does not require parental consent that “getting around parents' right to parental authority in this (matter) is very serious because for some things the State does require parents to exercise their authority and so asks them to be responsible for the actions of their children.”

Today we have the situation “that a young man at 14 can’t drive but of course he can start a family. He can't buy a beer at the store either because he's a minor but of course he can start a family. There are many activities that a minor under 18 cannot access, but of course he can start a family,” the pro-life leader pointed out.

The president of Unidos por la Vida said that the ruling that allows minors to cohabit with or marry  adults is "a contradiction, an absurdity and an ideological vision on the part of these Supreme Court justices."

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