Laws about teen sex and child support exist to help you care for and protect your teenager. It's important for you to know about these laws and talk with your teen about them.
Every state has a law about how old somebody can be before they can legally say "yes" to sex. And every state has a law that makes it a crime to have sex with a teenager in certain situations.
Every state has laws about how old someone has to be before he or she can legally say "yes to sex". In most states that age is 16 but in some states it's as old as 18. Some states make it a crime for anyone under the age of 18 to have sex, even if it is with someone their own age.
Most states also have laws concerning the "minimum age of victim" — that is the age below which a young person can never under any circumstances legally consent to sex, and sex with that person is always against the law. About half of all states also have laws that relate to the difference in age between a minor having sex, and his or her partner. In some states the age difference is as low as two years, in others as high as five.
Some state laws say that a person must be at least a certain age before they can be prosecuted for having sex with a pre-teen or teen.
To learn more about age requirements and sex, view this chart of state laws in all 50 states as of December 2004. (NOTE: state laws are changing all the time, and some can be complicated. If you have questions about your state, you can contact the local Office of Child Protective Services or county or attorney's office.)
These laws are designed to protect teens from older men or women who try to take advantage of them by pressuring, forcing, or convincing them to have sex. It doesn't matter if the teen says "yes". The older person can still be charged with a crime.64
Child Support Enforcement laws:
There are other laws that can come into play when teenagers are involved in sex that parents and their teens should be aware of. Of particular importance are the laws, services, and programs run by the child support enforcement program. The child support enforcement program is there to help make sure that children are taken care of, even by absent parents. Child support programs are in every state and help to locate non-custodial parents, establish paternity by legally identifying the child's father, and collect support. Boys and men who father a child out-of-wedlock are required to help pay for raising the child until the child reaches the age of 18. This is true even if the father is a teenager.
For more information about child support, including how child support enforcement laws work, visit: www.acf.hhs.gov/opa/fact_sheets/cse_factsheet.html
For advice on talking with your son or daughter about these difficult issues, visit Talking to Your Pre-Teen or Teen About Waiting.
Teens, Sex, & the Law