House Passes Bill Preventing Forced Child Marriage

May 10, 2017

Yesterday the House unanimously passed legislation that would raise the legal age to marry to 16 and enact greater safeguards for minors petitioning to be married.

I introduced the bill after speaking to UConn Masters of Public Health students Audrey and Matt Blondin of Litchfield, who were looking to address the issue of child marriage in Connecticut.

HB 5442, An Act Concerning The Legal Age To Marry In This State, will:

  • Prohibit anyone from marrying under the age of 16
  • Require 16- and 17-year-olds to obtain parental consent and the approval of the Probate Court to marry
  • Require the Probate Court to hold a hearing to determine that the minor consents to the marriage and understands the consequences of entering a marriage

Many of us in the legislature were stunned to learn that Connecticut has no minimum age to marry. We like to think that forced child marriage is not something that happens in this country, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Girls in particular are vulnerable to being coerced into marrying older men. This bill protects our children by putting safeguards in place to ensure no minor is entering a marriage against their will.

Connecticut currently has no minimum age beneath which a child cannot marry. 16- and 17-year-olds can marry with parental consent and children 15 and under can marry with judicial approval and parental consent. The bill now goes to the Senate, where I hope they'll take action quickly.

Press Release: Rep. Cook Applauds House Passage of Bill to Prevent Forced Child Marriages