Zablocki v. Redhail

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Zablocki v. Redhail
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided January 18, 1978
Reaffirmed by
Obergefell v. Hodges


In the 1970s, a Wisconsin statute provided that a non-custodial parent with court-ordered child support obligation could not get married. A parent delinquent on child support payments was required to obtain judicial approval prior to marrying.

Robert Redhail had fallen behind on court-ordered child support payments. His underage daughter was receiving welfare benefits.

In late 1974, Redhail applied for a marriage license with the county clerk in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He sought to marry a new woman with whom he was expecting another child. His application to marry was denied.

Procedural History

Redhail filed a lawsuit against Zablocki (defendant), the County Clerk of Milwaukee County. Zablocki loses because the federal trial court declared that the Wisconsin statute was in disagreement with the EPC (Equal Protection Clause) of the 14th Amendment.


Can a state forbid a non-custodial parent to marry if the parent is behind on court-ordered child support or can't show that the child will never require welfare benefits?


No. Under the EPC, a state may not forbid a non-custodial parent to marry because of over-due child-support or welfare payment reasons.