Senate Approves Legislation to End Child Marriages

HARRISBURG – The state Senate today passed legislation that would end child marriage in Pennsylvania, according to Senator Scott Martin (R-13), who supported the measure.

Senate Bill 81 would eliminate all legal exceptions that allow for the marriages of children under the age of 18.  Pennsylvania is currently one of 18 states that does not specify a minimum age at which a person can be married.

“Child marriage can lead to serious problems later in life, and it opens another avenue that can be used to exploit young people,” Martin said. “Marriage is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make, so there is a lot of value in ensuring both parties are mature enough to make that decision.”

Current Pennsylvania law allows for those under 18 to marry with a custodial parent or guardian’s consent and those under 16, to marry if a judge thinks it is in the marriage license applicant’s best interest and with parental consent.

According to Unchained at Last, an organization that works to end child marriages, children who are forced into marriage before the age of 18 face lifelong, devastating consequences in terms of health, education, economic opportunities, and quality of life.

CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535

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