On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that would prevent minors from getting married. The age of marital consent was raised from 17 to 18. Four years ago, children as young as 14 could legally get married. The new law permits 17-18 year olds to pursue marriage with permission from a parent or guardian.
The law, named Nalia’s law, for a survivor of forced child marriage, aims to protect minors from exploitation. The majority of minors taking place in child marriages are teenage girls. Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Nassau) labeled the practice “predatory,” and Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn) explained: “getting married before adulthood often has devastating consequences for them.”
Salazar also described how aside from their mental and emotional immaturity, children lack the legal and financial independence to protect themselves in a marriage.
Under the new law, those who sign marriage licenses for underage children would face fines as well as misdemeanor charges. It will take effect in 30 days. Cuomo stated: “This administration fought hard to successfully end child marriage in New York and I’m proud to sign this legislation to strengthen our laws and further protect vulnerable children from exploitation.”