New Jersey becomes second state to fully ban child marriage

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey is the second state in the nation to ban child marriage under all circumstances.

Governor Phil Murphy today signed Senate Bill No. 427 on Friday, which prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from marrying or entering into a civil union.

Delaware was the first state to ban child marriage in May 2018.

“In New Jersey, we are dedicated to protecting children by putting an end to child marriages by raising the minimum age to 18,” Governor Murphy said. “Studies have consistently showed that minors who enter into marriage – particularly young women – are less likely to graduate from high school and college and more likely to suffer domestic abuse and live in poverty. I am proud to join with the Legislature to make New Jersey a national leader on this important human rights issue.”

The legislation bars the issuance of marriage or civil union licenses to all persons under the age of 18.

Previously, New Jersey minors who were 16 or 17 could get married with parental consent. Minors under the age of 16 could be married after obtaining parental consent and approval from a judge.

According to the New Jersey Department of Health, more than 3,600 minors got married in New Jersey between 1995 and 2015.

Research has shown that young women married at 18 or younger suffer negative psychological, social, educational, and financial consequences. The legislation will play a crucial role in protecting New Jersey’s children and preventing them from being forced or coerced into marriages.