Delaware Expected To Be The First State To Ban Child Marriage Outright


The Delaware Senate voted unanimously Thursday to become the first state in the U.S. to ban child marriage, no exceptions. Legislation prohibiting minors from marrying under any circumstance is headed to the governor’s desk where he is expected to sign it.

Right now Delaware is one of 25 states that allows a child of any age to get married. And while most state laws require that people must be at least 18, they allow for exceptions, like pregnancy or parent consent.

“We’re leaving girls with no protections,” said State Rep. Kim Williams, who sponsored the legislation. “I don’t want children to have to make a decision about marriage until they’re 18.”

Kelsey Lee is a family attorney with the nonprofit organization Unchained At Last, which helps people who were forced into marriages. Lee says most of the time the marriages are between an adult male and a girl. That leaves the girl without the legal protections adults have, such as hiring a divorce lawyer. 

“Children here in Delaware cannot file a legal action in their own name. A parent or guardian would have to do it for them. We know children who are forced to marry — it’s almost always the parents, so it is highly unlikely that the parent will allow them to divorce.”READ MORE

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