Child marriage banned in New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation today to raise the age of consent from 14 to 18, ending child marriage in New York.

The new law also amends the process to recover parental and judicial consent for  marriage of those between 17 and 18 years old.

The governor announced in February that he was advancing legislation to raise the age of consent to marry to 18 years old in New York. Until the new legislation was signed Tuesday, children as young as 14 could get married with parental permission and written consent from a judge. That law dated back to 1929, and did not provide guidance to judges on whether or not to grant consent.

More than 3,800 minors were married in New York State between 2000 and 2010, according to a press release from Gov. Cuomo’s office.

The new law specifically prohibits anyone under 17 from getting married, and provides guidance for judges being tasked with making a determination whether or not a 17-year-old may be married. Judges will need to ensure that an individual is entering into the marriage of his or her own free will, that they are not being coerced by force, fraud, or coercion, and that the marriage will not endanger the mental, emotional, or physical safety of the applicant.

Research shows that young women who marry before 19 are 50 percent more likely than their peers to drop out of high school, and four times less likely to graduate from college.

Women who wed before 18 are also at increased risk of developing mental and physical health disorders, including a 23 percent higher risk of heart attack, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.

Girls who marry young are 31 percent more likely to live in poverty when they are older and three times more likely to be beaten by their spouses than women who wed at 21 or older.

 “This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages, and I am proud to sign this legislation that puts an end to child marriage in New York once and for all.” Cuomo said in a statement.

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