PA 17-54—sHB 5442

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE LEGAL AGE TO MARRY IN THIS STATE

SUMMARY: This act (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 prior law, a 16- or 17-year-old could be issued a marriage license if the registrar of vital statistics had on file the written consent of the minor's parent or guardian. If the minor was under age 16, he or she also needed the written consent of the probate judge where the minor resided. (The probate judge's written consent alone could suffice for a minor's marriage license if no parent or guardian was a U.S. resident.)

Under the act, a minor 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 act, 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 act also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017