Assembly OKs Bill to Ban Marriage Under 18 in New Jersey


TRENTON, NJ – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Pamela Lampitt, Raj Mukherji and Shavonda Sumter to combat forced child marriages was approved Thursday by the Assembly.

The bill would bar the issuance of marriage or civil union licenses to all persons under the age of 18, regardless of parental or judicial consent. Under current law, marriage or civil union licenses may not be issued to minors under the age of 18 unless the parents or guardian, if any, consent.  If the minor is under the age of 16, a judge of the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part must also consent to the marriage or civil union. 

 “Most people would probably be surprised at how many underage marriages occur, not just in the United States, but right here in New Jersey, some even as young as 13 or 14,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).  “In most cases these are forced marriages and in the vast majority they involve young girls.  At its most basic sense, marriage is a legal contract that should be reserved for two consenting adults, plain and simple.”

Sign Up for E-News

The bill is intended to address the problem of forced child marriages.  According to a New York Times op-ed, more than 3,000 children under the age of 18 were married in New Jersey between 1995 and 2012. Most were 16 or 17 and married with parental consent, but 163 were between the ages of 13 and 15, meaning a judge approved their marriages.  Furthermore, New Jersey data shows that 90 percent of the children married were girls, which is consistent with global trends.

 “There have been many reports detailing the dangers of child marriage and how it undermines a girl’s health, often exposes them to violence, and hinders their educational and economic opportunities,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington).  “We can’t control the rest of the world, but we can put a stop to it here.”

“Some might think forced marriages are something that only occurs elsewhere, not in the United States, but it’s a lot more common than we think, even right here in New Jersey,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson).  “This is about preserving basic human rights and ensuring that young women, in particular, are not forced into marriage against their will.”

“This is a human rights issue and a woman’s issue,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “These types of marriage arrangements are stealing the lives and childhoods of young women and it’s heartbreaking. It’s time to send a clear message and protect our youth, especially girls, from entering into or being entered into marriage before 18.”

A survey by the Tahirih Justice Center, an NGO that provides services to immigrant women and girls, identified as many as 3,000 known or suspected forced-marriage cases throughout the United States between 2009 and 2011, many involving girls under age 18.

Similar legislation is pending in Maryland and New York.  In Virginia, legislation is awaiting the Governor’s signature which would prohibit minors under the age of 18 from marrying unless they petition for emancipation.

The bill passed in the Senate in April. It will now go to Governor Murphy for further consideration.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Mon, June 25, 7:00 PM

Hillsborough Library, Hillsborough

West African Dance Workshop: Featuring Live Drums

Tue, June 26, 7:00 PM

Hillsborough Library, Hillsborough

Bang a Drum: Hands-On Drumming Workshop

Mon, July 9, 7:00 PM

Hillsborough Library, Hillsborough

The History of Rock and Roll: How The Beatles Did ...

New Chaplain Appointed to Somerset County Sheriff’s Office

June 21, 2018

SOMERVILLE , NJ - Somerset County Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano recently welcomed the Rev. Joseph Lugo as chaplain of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

Father Lugo was sworn in June 7 by Superior Court Judge Michael J. Rogers at the Somerset County Historic Courthouse.

Father Lugo is a longtime resident of the Bradley Gardens section of Bridgewater. He attended Boston College, Mount ...

Three Reasons Why Tom Malinowski Won't Dump Nancy Pelosi

June 21, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ - Today Congressional Candidate Jeff Van Drew became the latest New Jersey Democrat to say they won't support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

While Democratic Candidates in New Jersey and across the country have vowed to dump Pelosi, DC Lobbyist Tom Malinowski remains quiet. But don't be fooled. While Malinowski ...