U.S. child marriage laws: individual state legislation - FreedomUnited.org

U.S. child marriage laws: individual state legislation

In the United States, there is no federal law that specifically governs child marriage, leaving the regulation of this issue to individual states. Consequently, the laws surrounding child marriage vary widely from one state to another. Each state sets its own requirements regarding age, consent, and other conditions for marriage. As of March 2024, only ten states have completely banned child marriage.

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Below are current pending bills that promise positive change in the fight against forced child marriage by outlawing child marriage without exception.

California

California currently has no minimum age to get married. Our latest hope, AB 2924, the bill to end all marriages before 18, is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 23, 2024. 

Are you a California resident? Join our partners Unchained At Last and write to your state legislators.  

Published: April 2024 

Hawaii

In Hawaii, anyone over the age of 15 can legally get married. Two bills that could increase this to 18 were introduced in 2023 and are currently in the legislative process: SB 46 and HB 206. The former is awaiting action in the Senate Health & Human Services and Judiciary Committees. The latter is pending HB206 is pending in the House Health & Homelessness and Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs Committees.  

Published: April 2024 

Illinois

The minimum age to get married in Illinois is currently set at 16. There are currently four bills at different stages of the legislative process: HB 1252 (pending in the House Rules Committee) and SB 2749 (awaiting action in the Senate Executive Committee) that would both end child marriage completely and HB 5056 and HB 5644 (both pending in the House Rules Committee) that aim to end child marriage but keep some loopholes open.  

Published: April 2024 

Kansas

In Kansas, child marriage is still possible for children between the ages of 15 and 18. A promising bill, HB 2046, is currently under review in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.

Published: April 2024 

Missouri

Missouri currently allows children above 16 to get married. Just this year, in 2024, the bills SB 767 and HB 2709 to end all marriage before age 18 were introduced. The former has been passed in the Senate and is awaiting further action in the House. The latter is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. 

Are you a Missouri resident? Join our partners Unchained At Last and write to your state legislators.

Published: April 2024 

New Hampshire

Children in New Hampshire can get married from the age of 16, having been raised in 2018. Since then, all attempts to raise it to 18 have failed, but now the promising bill SB 359 unanimously passed the Senate in March 2024 and is awaiting further action in the House.

Are you a New Hampshire resident? Join our partners Unchained At Last and write to your state legislators.

Published: April 2024 

South Carolina

Currently, the minimum age to get married in South Carolina is set at 16. After some previous attempts, bill SB 34 which promises to end child marriage in the state is awaiting action in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  

Published: April 2024