OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5442 (as amended by House "A")*



This bill (1) prohibits anyone under age 16 from being issued a marriage license under any circumstances and (2) narrows the circumstances in which such a license may be issued to a 16- or 17-year-old.

Under current law, a 16- or 17-year-old may be issued a marriage license if the registrar of vital statistics has on file the written consent of the minor's parent or guardian. If the minor is under age 16, he or she also needs the written consent of the probate judge where he or she resides. (The probate judge's written consent alone may suffice for a minor's marriage license if no parent or guardian is a U.S. resident.)

Under the bill, an individual under age 16 may not be issued a marriage license. A 16- or 17-year-old may only get a marriage license if the probate court where the minor resides approves a petition filed on the minor's behalf by his or her parent or guardian. The court must schedule a hearing on the petition and notify the minor, his or her parents or guardians, and the other party to the intended marriage. The minor and the petitioning parent or guardian must attend the hearing and the court may, at its discretion, also require the other party to the marriage to attend the hearing. After a hearing on the petition, the court may approve the license if it finds that the:

1. petitioning parent or guardian consents to the marriage,

2. minor (a) consents to the marriage based on an understanding of the nature and consequences of the marriage and (b) is sufficiently capable of making that decision,

3. minor's decision to marry is voluntary and made without coercion, and

4. marriage would not be detrimental to the minor.

Under existing law, unchanged by the bill, emancipated minors are treated as adults for marriage purposes and therefore are not subject to these restrictions. (By law, a minor must be at least age 16 to be emancipated.)

The bill also makes technical and conforming changes.

*House Amendment “A” permits 16- or 17-year-old minors to get a marriage license with probate court approval instead of the underlying bill's provisions allowing such minors to marry only if (1) one of the parties is pregnant or in the military and (2) the minor, his or her parents or guardians, and the probate court judge provide written consent.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017


Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute