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New York officially bans the marriage of minors

Published Monday, Jul. 26th, 2021

Individuals under the age of 18 will no longer be able to marry in the state of New York. 


Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill 3086 on July 22, raising the legal age of consent to marry in New York to 18 for all individuals, and removing all exceptions for minors.


Before 2017, children as young as 14 could marry in New York. The minimum age of consent was raised in 2017, but the law still allowed exceptions for 17 year-olds, if the child could show parental or judicial consent when applying for their marriage license. The new law removes all remaining exceptions. 


Now, NY law will explicitly state: 


§ 15-a. Marriages of minors under eighteen years of age


Any marriage in which either party is under the age of eighteen years is hereby prohibited. Any town or city clerk who shall knowingly issue a marriage license to any persons, one or both of whom shall be at the time of their contemplated marriage actually under the age of eighteen years, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be fined in the sum of one hundred dollars. (effective 8/21/21)



The state’s decision reflects a growing trend, as legislators across the country reconsider minimum ages for marriage contracts. Rhode Island raised its minimum age to 18 just last month, following in the footsteps of Pennsylvania and Minnesota, who removed exceptions for minors in 2020, and Delaware and New Jersey, who banned child marriage in 2018. 


Related legislation is also being considered in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, and Oregon.


New York’s changes go into effect on August 21, 2021; 30 days after the law was passed. 




Visit our New York Marriage Laws to see each revision going into effect next month. 


SB 3086 amends the following Sections of New York Consolidated Laws:
15 (Duty of town and city clerks)
15-a (Marriage of Minors), 
13-b (Time within which marriage may be solemnized),
25 (License, when to be obtained),
7 (Voidable marriages)


And repeals the following Sections: 
Subdivision 3 of Section 15 (Duty of town and city clerks)
Paragraph c of Subdivision 1 of Section 11-a (Duty of city clerk in certain cities...)
Section 84 (Guardianship of a married minor)





Friends and family members can perform wedding ceremonies in New York, as long as they're ordained. Online ordination is simple and free.



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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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