North Carolina state legislators are working to raise the state’s minimum age of marriage to 18.
The bills introduced in both chambers on Monday look to erase the ability of minors being able to wed in the state. Something that would be a first in history. As it stands currently, anyone over the age of 14 can enter into a marriage commitment in the Tar Heel State.
North Carolina and 18 other states allowed children to be married as of 2018. Since then several states have amended their laws to require people to be 18 years of age or older.
According to the current state law, parental consent is required for minors to marry, but allows marriage with children as young as 14-years-old with court approval in cases involving pregnancy or raising a child, commonly referred to as the “pregnancy exception.”
Over 8,000 marriage license applications involving minors were filed in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties over the last decade.
According to a report by The Hill, “Approximately 93 percent of those applications were between an adult and a minor, with over 200 minors marrying someone at least 10 years their senior, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) reported. Those legally sanctioned marriage licenses “would have otherwise been a Class-B Felony under the state’s statutory rape laws.”
North Carolina ranks ninth for the state with the most amount of weddings.