Lawmakers Push to Ban Child Marriages in Michigan [VIDEO]
You may think that the number of children who say "I do" in Michigan is low, but there are actually a staggering number of teenagers -- some as young as 14 -- who get married each year.
Lawmakers in Lansing are currently working on legislation that would ban child marriages in our state.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 1,000 children tied the knot between the years 2000 and 2019. Data for 2020 is not yet available.
Michigan law currently states that 16 and 17-year-olds can get married with the permission of one parent. Under the age of 16, a signature from a parent and permission from a judge is required, but there is no minimum age restriction. Some requests from teens as young as 14 have been approved. In 84% of the cases (for years in which data is available) these marriages involve an adult male and a much younger female.
State Representative Kara Hope has helped introduce House Bill 4227 which would end the practice. Similar legislation has been introduced in the past, but Hope tells WOOD-TV that the bill currently has more momentum. She says she was surprised to learn how many children have been permitted to marry in Michigan.
“I was shocked like many other people are,” Hope said. “I was surprised that it was actually legal. It didn’t seem like that could be actually true, but of course, it is true.”
Milton Mack, who at one time presided over teenage marriages as a probate judge is now in favor of abolishing it. He says the practice is in essence a legal loophole.
“This was designed for a situation where a child had gotten pregnant and they wanted to legitimize the child,” Mack told WOOD-TV in 2018.
Representative Hope went on to say that passing this legislation is one more step toward making Michigan a safe place for everyone.