Senate Bill Ending Child Marriage In New York Delivered To Governor

John J. Flanagan

June 08, 2017

Measure Increases the Age of Consent for Purposes of Marriage and Protects Vulnerable Children from Sexual Predators

Following passage in both houses, the New York State Senate has delivered legislation to end child marriage to the Governor.  The bill (S4407B), sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R-C-I, Staten Island) prohibits the marriage of minors under 17 years of age and requires 17-year-olds to get court approval for marriage.

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, “I applaud my colleagues in the Senate and Assembly for coming together to pass this important legislation ending child marriage in New York.  We look forward to the Governor signing it and enacting it into law as soon as possible.”

While current law states that the minimum marriage age in New York is 18, children aged 14-17 may wed with parental consent, and 14 and 15-year-olds require judicial approval as well.

In addition to increasing the minimum age for marriage to 17, this bill puts checks in place to ensure that parental consent is not parental coercion.  It also addresses concerns about the lack of meaningful procedures and guidelines in the current law's judicial approval process to ensure that the minor is making an informed decision based only on her or his own views and wishes.

At least 3,850 children between the ages of 14 and 18 were legally married between 2000 and 2010 in New York State, and 84 percent of these marriages wed a girl to an adult man.  Many of these marriages come with significant age differences, which can subsequently lead to negative effects on the child’s health and education, and an increased likelihood of domestic violence predominantly affecting girls.