The North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon that would raise the minimum age for marriage in North Carolina from fourteen to sixteen years of age. SB 35–Max 4-Yr Age Diff to Marry Under 18 Yrs, has already passed in the State Senate, and now heads to Governor Roy Cooper for his signature or veto.
Current marriage law in North Carolina allows minors over sixteen and under eighteen years of age to marry with parental consent. Minors between fourteen and sixteen years may also marry in cases where the couple has or is expecting a child, but they are required to get authorization from a district court.
SB 35 would raise the minimum age for marriage to sixteen years old, and adds the requirement that those under eighteen cannot marry a person more than four years older than they are. This addition is an effort to prevent human trafficking and to also prohibit child marriages, where much older men seek to marry underage girls. Additionally, SB 35 requires either parental consent or authorization from a district court for anyone under eighteen years of age to marry.
“As a conservative Christian, I am a strong supporter of the sacrament of marriage,” said Rep. Kristin Baker (R-Cabarrus), a sponsor of a similar bill introduced in the House. “As a child psychiatrist, I am determined to protect our vulnerable youth, enhancing their chances for healthy, happy futures. I believe this bill works to achieve those ends.”
SB 35 passed unanimously in the State Senate in May, and unanimously in the State House this afternoon. Governor Cooper is expected to sign this bill in law.