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Florida Bill Bans Forced Child Marriage

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. on February 01, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

While most people seem to be getting married at an older age these days, the age of consent under state marriage laws varies between 16 and 18. But there are instances where the age of consent is even lower, provided that there's parental and/or judicial consent. While this may seem reasonable since the assumption is that parents and judges have a child's best interests at heart, this is not always the case.

Sometimes, due to various circumstances, a child is forced by his or her parents to get married. To address this concern and protect children from being forced into marriage, the Florida Senate recently passed a bill to end child marriage in the state.

Why Would Parents Force Their Child to Get Married?

When you think about instances of why someone would allow his or her child to get married younger than the age of consent, the first thing that comes to mind is that the child is in love and wants to get married. Unfortunately, it turns out that sometimes parents force their child to get married.

This is what happened to Sherry Johnson, who, according the Associated Press, inspired the Florida Senate to pass this bill. The AP article explains that Johnson was raped by a church deacon when she was only 9 years old, gave birth at 10. And after pressure from the church, her mom gave her consent for Johnson (who was 11 at the time) to marry the deacon.

Florida Bill on Child Marriage

Under Florida's current marriage laws, a person who is 16 or 17 can marry with their parents' consent. Additionally, there's no minimum age for marriage if a pregnancy is involved as long as the marriage license is approved by a judge. Under the new Florida bill, which was unanimously approved by Florida Senators, all marriage licenses would be banned for people under the age of 18.

If the bill is signed into law, then what happened to Johnson will not happen to any other children in Florida.

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