An overlooked law on the books in New York since 1929 has made it legal for children as young as 14 to marry with parental and judicial approval.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is now seeking to put an end to the anachronistic law, according to a New York Times report Monday.
“I don’t think people even knew this,” the Governor recently said. “I think they are going to be shocked when they hear about the status of the law.”
The New York Times noted that Cuomo and other lawmakers have been introduced bills to end marriage for 14, 15, and 16-year-olds. Nearly 3,900 minors were married in NYS between 2010, primarily through religious arranged marriages.
Under the law being proposed by Cuomo, the legal age for marriage would be raised to 18, though 17-year-olds would still be allowed to marry with parental and judicial consent.
Professor Vivian E. Hamilton of William and Mary Law School noted that 70% of marriages involving those under 18 end in divorce.
“Raising the marriage age to 18 is as close to low hanging legislative fruit as you can get,” Hamilton told the NY Times. “I think the best policy would be to set the marriage age at 21.”
Legislation similar to Cuomo’s has also been introduced by Democratic assemblywoman Amy Paulin.
“With the governor’s support and his urging, I see a path to getting it done this year,” Paul said. “And we’re in a stronger position than we were before.”