New York Raises the Legal Age for Marriage to 17

The state of New York recently raised its legal age of marriage from 14 to 17, partly to crack down on a system that sometimes resulted in young girls becoming child brides against their will.

Previously, New York was one of just three states that allowed 14-year-old individuals to marry without the permission of their parents — the others being Alaska and North Carolina. As a result, more than 3,850 minors were married in New York between 2000 and 2010. In 84 percent of those cases, a child bride married an adult man.

Under the new law, children under 17 cannot be married in any circumstances, and those who are 17 years old must obtain permission both from their parents and from a judge to be able to get married. The state will provide judges with a set of guidelines to help them determine if marriage is appropriate for a 17-year-old person.

A long fight for child brides

Advocates in the state had long fought for this rule change, claiming the existing laws in New York caused a high incidence of child brides, who ultimately would have poor educational and career opportunities. They are also more likely to become victims of domestic violence. In addition, many children who are trapped in marriages with adults find it difficult to get the access they need to domestic violence shelters and legal services that would save them from abusive relationships.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the legislation a “major step forward in our efforts to protect children and end forced marriages.”

If you have questions about marriage and divorce laws in the state of New York, speak with a knowledgeable Long Island family law attorney at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates.

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