LANSING, Mich. — Legislation by Sen. Mark Huizenga was approved by the Michigan Senate on Thursday as part of a bipartisan package to prohibit children under age 18 from getting married in the state.
“We’ve heard terrible stories about people married off by their parents at a young age into abusive relationships — only to be stuck in the marriage until they turn 18. This would help solve that problem,” said Huizenga, R-Walker. “This long-overdue reform is about better protecting our children from sexual and physical abuse by preventing marriages in Michigan until both parties are old enough to make these decisions for themselves.”
Under current Michigan law, a minor over the age of 16 but under the age of 18 can be married with the consent of a parent or legal guardian. Additionally, someone under the age of 16 can get married with the consent of all living parents or legal guardians and the order of a probate judge.
“Functionally, Michigan has no minimum age for marriage,” Huizenga said.
Among the changes in Senate Bills 209-217 and 246 are:
- Prohibiting the marriage of a minor under the age of 18.
- Voiding any marriage entered into by someone under age 18.
- Eliminating the exception allowing minors between ages 16 and 18 to enter into a marriage contract with parental consent.
- Stopping probate judges from marrying minors.
- Banning a parent from authorizing the marriage of an underage child.
- Removing a clause in the state’s divorce statute that prevents an annulment for couples married underage who cohabitated as a married couple after turning age 18.
The bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.