Q & A: Can you list all the ages that would be a legal relationship?

March 13, 2023

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It’s so important to ask this question! Knowing your legal rights keeps people safe when it comes to relationships. There are laws in every state that outline how far apart in age pre-teens and teenagers can be for a relationship to be considered illegal.

But before we even allow the law to enter into this, know that differences in age aren’t the only thing that can create imbalance between people. For example, two 15 year-olds can be in a relationship with each other, and it is unhealthy for one of them to make all of the decisions for the relationship, control the other person’s social life, or coerce the other into doing things they are not comfortable with.

The point being, age is not the only factor that contributes to potentially unhealthy behaviors in a relationship. With that being said, lawmakers have created age-gap laws that attempt to mitigate differences in power in teenagers because of the fact that just a small gap in age and development can make a huge difference in how an older person can control a younger person. 

In the state of Alaska, for someone 13 years old or younger, it is illegal for them to be in a sexual relationship with someone that is 3 or more years older. For someone who is 14 or 15, this age gap is 4 years. When someone is 16, it is considered the “age of consent,” in which the law deems someone old enough to make decisions about sexual relationships with people older than them. There are three other aspects to the law that apply to people of every age: (1) if someone is coerced, or non-consensually forced to be in a relationship or to have any type of sex, that is illegal. (2) if one or both people are not sober and have any type of sex, that is illegal. (3) if one person is in a position of authority over the other (like a boss, religious leader, person in uniform, teacher) and has any type of sex with someone who is subordinate to them, that is illegal.

So here’s the list that you asked for, with a slight change in the way it is presented, because the law only says what is illegal not legal.                     

Age         Illegal Sexual Relationship if Partner is…
11                8 or younger, 14 or older
12                9 or younger, 15 or older
13                10 or younger, 16 or older
14                11 or younger, 18 or older
15                12 or younger, 19 or older
16                13 or younger