Raise the marriage age in NH?

Mar 01, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

The age at which a valid marriage can be contracted in New Hampshire could be raised if HB 499, a bill sponsored by Rep. Jacalyn Cilley, becomes law.

New Hampshire law allows boys as young as 14 and girls aged 13 and older to enter into a valid marriage contract. Parents of children under 18 who wish to marry have to apply to a family court for permission. The waiver is only valid for heterosexual couples; gay marriages are limited to those aged 18 and up.

HB 499 would raise the age limit for marrying with a court waiver to 16.
The bill has already received the approval of the House Children and Family Law Committee.

Rep. Cilley sponsored the bill at the request of a Dover high school student, Cassandra Levesque, who approached the legislator after attending a Girl Scout conference on human trafficking and forced child marriage.  

According to Rep. Cilley, New Hampshire’s underage marriage waiver does continue to be used, with several cases reported—including one instance of a 13-year-old marrying—in the last five years.

"There is no other type of contract that they could enter into legally. None," Cilley said. "And yet what many people consider one of our most solemn contracts that entails, literally, 1,168 different privileges, responsibilities and benefits, somebody at the age of 13 can enter into in the state of New Hampshire."

Bill opponent Rep. David Bates countered that the law only applies in cases where “special cause” exists—such as a teen pregnancy. "There was a time where there was a common belief that a child would be best served by growing up in a home with their natural mother and father," Bates argued.

Do you think the age limit for marriage in NH should be raised to 16? Join the discussion on Facebook or comment below. Comments will be included in a summary of this discussion and presented to legislators considering this bill. Only comments from NH residents will be counted, so please indicate if you are from NH in your response.

Comments

Rosaleen Natasa
- Concord

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 6:23am

As a parent I have a duty to do the best I can for my family, to keep my children safe from harm and to oversee their growth until they become mature, responsible, civic minded adults. If I were to allow my child to marry before their eighteenth birthday I would be failing as I would not be setting up my child for success, quite the opposite I would be setting them up for failure. Eighty percent of these marriages end in divorce, they don't finish high school, rarely go to college, have life long health issues and usually live a life of poverty. Is this what I want in future leaders of our country? No. We need encourage our youth to be the best they can, to finish high school and college, to be successful civic leaders. Family values are important yes, but letting children "play house" is not supporting family values it is under mining it. When we let crimes against children happen, and lets face it this is exactly what is going to happen, is that not undermining family values? I for one am not afraid to say no to my child if it is in their best interest. I do not look at this subject as interfering in my family values but of supporting them.

Seth King
- Sugar Hill

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 7:46am

For thousands of years people have been getting married in their early teens and starting families. But everything in our society today is about pushing the age of maturity further and further back. Our society is suffering from arrested development.

This idea that women should wait until they're in their 30's to have children, or that young adults would look for their first job only after they've graduated college has been detrimental to society.

It's no wonder western civilization is crumbling. We've bought this idea that we're over-populated. Then we get the bait-and-switch, and flood the country with immigrants from the third world. We haven't done anything to cull the herd, we've just changed the demographics. And not for the better!

White westerners are a global minority. Our birth rates have plummeted, while those of non-whites have exploded. There seems to be a lot of self-hate of white people getting pushed, especially in the universities. If you think the world would be kumbaya without white people, you're out of your mind.

I oppose this bill. It's a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. I'd like to see the government stop disincentivizing families. Also, I'd like to see a societal attitude change towards marriage, families, and work.

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RELATED REPRESENTATIVES

Senator, NH Senate (2006 - 2010); Representative, NH House of Representatives (2004 - 2006, 2014 - present); Candidate, NH Governor (2012); Former Owner, Cilley and Associates; Teacher

Representative, NH House of Representatives (2008 - 2012, 2014 - present); Vice Chairman, Windham GOP Town Committee

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