HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania minors have protection from predatory marriages after the governor signed into law House Bill 360
to prohibit marriages before the age of 18, Reps. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Franklin/Fulton) and Perry Warren (D-Bucks) announced.
“The elimination of child marriage is a huge step against human trafficking and our protection of those who are most vulnerable. Some of the many stories I’ve heard from survivors of child marriage involve teenage girls becoming victims of the human trafficking trade,” Topper said. “This law closes loopholes used to marry children. It also adds another layer to protect them from potentially being exploited.”
Previously, anapplicant could only be issued a marriage license with court approval. A marriage license also would have been issued where an applicant is older than 16 but younger than 18 with the consent of a parent or guardian.
The law removes those exceptions, settingthe minimum age at which a marriage license may be issued to 18.
“With Gov. Wolf’s signature, Pennsylvania becomes the third state to protect its children by ending child marriage, and sets an example for other states, including Minnesota, whose legislature this week also unanimously voted to end child marriage and where the bill awaits its governor’s signature. I am honored to be a part of Pennsylvania’s leadership in protecting our children,” Warren said.
In light of the COVID-19pandemic, an amendment was added to allow applicants for a marriage license to forward an affidavit instead of appearing in person when the office of Register of Wills has been closed due to the declaration of a disaster emergency. Another amendment provides a temporary waiver of the FBI fingerprinting requirement for background checks. The law also includes a provision to extend the deadline for individuals, including teachers, who need to recertify their child clearances. Those who need to recertify during the COVID-19 emergency declaration now have until the end of the year to compete the process.
Representative Jesse Topper
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross