Underage Marriage: Corina's Story

"My daughter is too young to be married, and I want the marriage annulled," says Leslie.

"When we got married, I was 16, and Ryan was 18. There wasn't anybody else in the world out there for me," Corina says.

Leslie thinks a wedding band will derail her daughter's chances for success. "I would like to see Corina and Ryan finish school and be regular teenagers," she says, though she doesn't think much of her son-in-law. "I don't like Ryan at all. Ryan has a lot of growing up to do because he's very selfish, very self-centered. He's controlling."

"I'm not her father, and I'm not her parent. I'm her husband; I'm her equal," Ryan declares.

Corina's stepfather, Chris, says Ryan is immature. "He doesn't have a job. He has no motivation to get a job. That's a bum. That's a parasite," he says.


"Corina has said to me on several occasions, ‘I'm not ready for this. This is not what I want,'" Leslie says. "Corina has cheated on Ryan. I found out by reading her journal."

Corina explains that she doubted her union during a short period when she and Ryan were separated. "I kind of just needed to get my thoughts together, and I realized that I missed Ryan a lot," she says. "Ryan and I have been faithful to each other."

"Ryan and I had a simple wedding. It was the greatest day of my life. Everybody who meant something to me was there," Corina reminisces.

"I was not notified of the wedding until after they were married. I felt very left out. It hurts a lot," Leslie says. "Corina's father signed an abandonment paper saying I had abandoned her and her brother. Signing the abandonment papers allowed Corina and Ryan to get married with only one parent's signature. If it looked like I was not in Corina's life, they wouldn't have to ask my permission to get married."

Corina sticks to her story. "She drove me to South Carolina and dropped me off at my best friend's house and left. I was only 15. It turned my life upside down. I didn't know what to do," she says.

"I did not abandon Corina. I sent Corina to live with her father. That was the best thing to do," Leslie maintains.

"I grew up with her telling me that a mother is supposed to be there for her children," Corina says, face crumpling in tears.

Dr. Phil turns to Corina. "What do you think about that synopsis of your situation?" he asks.

"I feel kind of like they're not giving Ryan a chance, because I do love Ryan, and Ryan is trying to get his GED and go to college. He's tried to get accepted into a couple of places and has gotten a few letters in the mail," she replies. Regarding the abandonment issue, she says, "She did drop me off at my friend's house in South Carolina and left, and that's the last time I saw her for a whole year."

"Because you're 16, your ability to see around corners, your ability to make informed decisions about very life-central issues, is not as good as it's going to be when you're 26 or 36 or 46," Dr. Phil says. "Do you agree with that?"

"I do believe that to an extent, but I do not believe that I'm still making normal decisions that a teenager would make. A normal teenager wouldn't think, ‘Hey, I need to get a job. I need to pay this bill. I need to make sure I get this work done.' They will just kind of say, ‘Whatever. Somebody else will do it.'"

Dr. Phil turns to Leslie. "You want this marriage annulled," he says.

"Yes," she replies.

"Do you have the right to be weighing in on that opinion, or have you, in fact, abandoned your daughter and left her to her own devices?" he asks.

"I didn't abandon her. That story appalls me. I took her to her friend's house to put her in a safe place until I could figure out things from her accusation about her stepfather," she replies. "As far as not being around for that year, they prevented me from it the whole time."