Senator Gallivan Announces Senate Action to End Child Marriage in NY

Patrick M. Gallivan

March 10, 2017

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

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) announces the New York State Senate has passed legislation to end child marriage. The bill (S4407A), co-sponsored by Gallivan, would prohibit the marriage of minors under 17 years of age and require 17-year-olds to get court approval for marriage.

“Surprisingly, children as young as 14 years old can get married in New York under current state law,” Gallivan said.  “Too often, these children are coerced or forced into marriage with an adult, subjecting them to violence and abuse.  It’s time to put an end to this practice once and for all.”

While current law states 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.

The bill passed by the Senate unanimously and was sent to the Assembly.