Child marriage laws in Kentucky could be changing

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Kentucky lawmakers are working to end child marriage in the Commonwealth.

The so-called “child bride bill” unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday and now goes to the Senate.

Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds in Kentucky can get married with their parent’s permission. Teens under 16 can get married with a judge’s permission in the case of a pregnancy.

Senate Bill 48, which is sponsored by State Senator Julie Adams, sets the minimum age to get married in Kentucky at 18. It also establishes court power to void a marriage under the age of 17 under certain conditions. 

The bill has run into opposition from some groups who claim it undermines parental rights. 

A provision in the bill allows 17-year-olds to petition the courts to approve a marriage.  
The court will be able to deny the petition if:

  • The parties’ age difference is more than four years
  • Intended spouse is in a position of authority or special trust over the minor
  • Intended spouse has been convicted of a sexual offense or an offense against a minor
  • Intended spouse has been subject to a protective order

Eyewitness News reached out to St. Sen. Dorsey Ridley who serves Kentucky’s fourth district. He stated –

“This probably will move Kentucky to the forefront in combating harms from a child marriage.”

The bill is set to be heard on the Senate floor Wednesday. Sen. Ridley feels it will pass. 

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(This story was originally published on March 6, 2018)

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