New Hampshire Is Raising Legal Age Of Marriage To 18 Without Exceptions

The New Hampshire House has passed a bill to raise the minimum age for marriage from the present 16 years to 18 years without any exceptions. The bill, which has been designated as SB 359, will now be sent to the Governor for his signature.

If approved by the Governor, New Hampshire will become the 12th state to have a law that bans marriage under the age of 18 with no exceptions.

New Hampshire To Raise Minimum Marriage Age to 18

The New Hampshire House voted 192-174 to pass the bill SB 359 on Thursday, raising the legal age for marriage from 16 years to 18 years. The bill has a long and eventful history and has been sent to Gov. Chris Sununu for approval.

Bill 359 clearly states that

“no person below the age of 18 years shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void.”

Presently, the legal age for marriage is 16 years.

The bill will also nullify the current legal options for minors to marry.

The current laws, RSA 457:6, permit parents and guardians of persons between 16 and 18 to approach a family court to grant permission for the marriage.

The petition also requires the involvement of the Division for Children, Youth, and Families and allows the court to interview with each minor getting married without their parents present. SB 359 would eliminate this process.

If the law is signed by the governor, it will make New Hampshire one of 12 states that have banned marriage under 18 with no exceptions. The other states which have such a law in place include Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New York.

Maine permits marriage for 16- and 17-year-olds with written consent from their parents, legal guardians, or custodians. However, this will become nullified in New Hampshire if SB 359 becomes law.

The bill was advocated for years by Rep. Cassandra Levesque, a Barrington Democrat. In 2018, the idea of raising the marriage age to 18 years from the then stipulated 14 years was first proposed by Levesque, then 19 and not yet a state representative. However, the House and Senate Republicans agreed to pass a bill to raise it to 16 instead. Levesque won her first election to the House and continued to advocate raising the marriage age to 18 years.

Levesque argued that raising the marriage age will prevent situations that can be exploited by others.

Levesque, in the House Calendar introducing SB 359, said,

“The committee found that this bill is important to be in law because we know that age of majority does not amount to maturity, and that there is a greater risk of human trafficking and domestic violence without these protections.”

However, the bill was opposed by Republican lawmakers. Rep. Margaret Drye, a Plainfield Republican, argued that the marriage was a beneficial option for those under 18 in certain circumstances like an unexpected pregnancy.

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Manoj Nair

Manoj Nair: With a decade of news writing across various media platforms, Manoj is a seasoned professional. His dual role as an English teacher underscores his command over communication. He adeptly covers Politics, Technology, Crypto, and more, reflecting a broad and insightful perspective that engages and informs diverse audiences.

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