10:06am: Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval

House bill would ban children under 18 from getting married in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia currently allows children 16 and older to get married, whether that be to another young person or to an adult, as long as a parent signs off on it.

Del. Kayla Young

“West Virginia actually has the highest rate of child marriage in the country, so we’re number one in something, but it’s something bad,” Del. Kayla Young (D-Kanawha) said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Young is sponsoring a bill, HB 3018, that would increase the legal marriage age with parental consent from 16 to 18.

Current law allows a 16 year old to get married with parental consent. If the person is under the age of 16, a judge can sign a waiver to allow for the marriage.

“There’s actually no floor, which is pretty scary,” Young said.

There have been more than 700 child marriages in West Virginia since 2001.

“Of those, only five percent were two teenagers. Most were a teenager and an adult. The biggest case was a 56 year old woman who was married to a 16 year old boy,” Young said. “That’s a problem.”

Young is also concerned the current law allows for more human trafficking.

“Some people will marry their children off,” she said.

Young said the bill has generated support from both Democrats and Republicans.

“A lot of Republicans see it as part of their pro-life agenda in protecting children and I agree with them. I think that it is,” she said.

The bill has also received criticism from those who were married at a young age.

“There was a little push back because we have some people who, their children were married as children or their parents were married as children. It’s something we see in a lot of older generations, but the times are changing and I think we need to change with them,” Young said.

The bill is currently before the House Judiciary Committee.

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