The report states that up to 80% of marriages with people under the age of 18 end in divorce. And he said girls who marry as minors are 50 percent more likely to drop out of high school and four times less likely to graduate from college. At his mother`s urging, they married when Pollard was 16. She says the groom chose a place known for quick weddings where he thought they wouldn`t have too many questions. He was right. The Kentucky bill would not only ban marriage for anyone under the age of 16, but would also eliminate the pregnancy exception that served as a loophole for men to avoid prosecution for sex with a minor. A 17-year-old who wants to marry needs the consent of a family court or district judge in addition to that of a parent. Rates of child marriage have been steadily declining across the country since 2000, and recently the pace of legislative change has accelerated. Since 2016, Virginia, New York, Connecticut and Texas have introduced new restrictions on child marriage. The Florida legislature passed a new law earlier this month after a year-long campaign by a woman forced to marry a much older man at age 11. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign the bill.
“I decided when I was 20 that I had to speak because I was suffocating,” she said. A study conducted at the University of Louisville`s Kent School of Social Work examined about 11,000 marriages in Kentucky with at least one minor between 2000 and 2015 and found that age differences are as large as a 13-year-old girl marrying a 33-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl marrying a 52-year-old man. Pollard said. Pollard said that when she tried to leave her abusive partner about 17 years ago, a domestic violence shelter said it couldn`t accept her because she was a minor. And when she tried to rent an apartment, she was rejected because she wasn`t 18 and couldn`t sign a lease. In Pulaski district, a judge approved the marriage of a 17-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man in 2012. A few months later, the girl`s parents wrote a fiery letter to the judge. “Our daughter was married against our decision and behind our backs,” the father wrote. “The boy doesn`t care about their safety or well-being. “These experiences align with the abuse I experienced in this relationship and led me to realization, especially when I saw the huge number of child marriages occurring in the state of Kentucky that made me want to advocate for change, and I can`t even tell you how happy I am,” Pollard said. Note: Because state laws change regularly, it`s important to review the laws you`re looking for by doing your own legal research or consulting with a knowledgeable attorney. Teenage brides tend to end up with less education and higher poverty rates, and are more vulnerable to domestic violence.
And those marriages don`t tend to last — a 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that teenage brides are two-thirds more likely to divorce within 15 years than those who marry later. Senate Bill 48, sponsored by Senator Julie Raque Adams, a Republican from Louisville, would raise the legal age for most marriages in Kentucky to 18. Donna Pollard, who was married at 16 and pregnant at 17, feared there was no escape from the relationship, which began when she was 14 and was approached by a 29-year-old man who worked at a treatment center where she was supposed to get help for emotional problems. Underage girls who seek help at domestic violence shelters fall into a legal “gray area,” Kentucky domestic violence authorities have said. As married people, they are considered emancipated, but the law does not guarantee them the right to seek help, such as medical treatment or protection from domestic violence, without an adult`s permission. While the Smoot center would prefer the state to raise the legal age for all marriages to 18, it acknowledges that this may “not be immediately feasible in some states.” Instead, the center has worked to help states draft laws that include protections for people under 18, according to a 2017 report titled “Falling Through the Loopholes – How Laws Enable Child Marriage in America Today.” It was a sadly similar story for Donna Pollard, who was exploited by a 29-year-old man when she was 14. Two years later, his parents signed the forms and Pollard married at the age of 16. She had to drop out of high school before her sophomore year to work full-time. But in cases where a juvenile marries an adult, the judge should review documents, including child abuse cases in which the teen is involved, and look for offender records.
The judge should also consider factors such as the maturity and independence of the young person, determine whether the young person graduated from high school or received a GED, and review all domestic violence cases from both parties. While the public may assume that most underage marriages are between two teenagers, that`s only about 7 percent of those cases in Kentucky, Pollard said. The rest are teenage girls who marry older men. A bill approved by the Kentucky legislature and sent to the governor`s office would change that. Kentucky S.B. 48 would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to marry. The bill passed the Kentucky House of Representatives on Friday. More: It`s legal in Kentucky to tie up pregnant prisoners during labor Pollard said she was abused as a child.
His father, a truck driver, died of lung cancer at the age of 13. Currently, teens under the age of 18 in Kentucky can marry at age 16 or 17 with a parent`s permission. Young people under the age of 16 may marry with judicial authorization in the event of pregnancy. “People assume that child marriage belongs to past generations,” says Jeanne Smoot, senior counsel at the Tahirih Justice Center. The Virginia-based advocacy group is leading a national campaign to raise the legal age of marriage to 18. Pollard now lives in Louisville, works full-time for a health care company and raises his 10-year-old daughter. She spends hours making her voice and story available to victims` groups like the Kentucky Attorney General`s Council of Survivors. The report says more than 200,000 children under the age of 18 were married across the country between 2000 and 2015, with the majority of adolescent girls marrying older men. The judge must also consider why the 17-year-old wants to get married, his maturity and whether the person has graduated from high school or a GED.
Kentucky is one of 25 states where a child of any age can walk down the aisle to get married — no bride or groom is too young. This history has been updated to reflect the circumstances under which people under the age of 18 can marry in Kentucky. In many cases, it is up to judges – not parents – to decide who is fit to marry young. Young people often write letters influencing the judge. Parents wrote with blessings or objections. In 2011, a mother asked a reluctant judge in Lexington to let her 15-year-old daughter marry a 27-year-old man. “[My daughter] studied and worked on the pre-GED. She plans to become a nurse who works with babies,” she wrote. I give my permission. The judge dismissed the marriage. “We would be very happy if it was you who married us today,” his letter reads.
On April 22, 2000, Donna Pollard became one of thousands of children who marry each year in the United States. Yet Kentucky has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the country, according to data recently published by Frontline and the New York Times. In some cases, an underage girl becomes pregnant and is pushed into marriage by an older man — sometimes with the support of the girl`s parents — to hide evidence of her sexual involvement with a girl too young to legally consent to sex, she said. The group has been closely monitoring cases in other states. Virginia and Texas have recently raised the age of marriage to 18 or 16 when the child is emancipated. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar measure, citing religious freedom. Parental pressure is often closely linked to religious beliefs – beliefs that the minor may or may not share. In May 2017, Republican Governor Chris Christie raised concerns about religious freedom when he vetoed a bill that would have made New Jersey the first state to ban child marriage without exception. Each state regulates marriage, including who can marry and at what age. Many states allow judicial circumvention or a way to ask the court to issue a marriage certificate to adolescents under the age of 18 who wish to marry but cannot come because of absent parents or without parental permission.
This is usually limited to extreme circumstances, including pregnancy. This was more commonly used when children born out of wedlock were treated differently from those whose parents were married.