Child Marriage Fact Sheet

In Massachusetts it is legal for a child as young as 12 years old to get married. We are supporting the latest bill filed to establish a minimum age, a bill last year died in committee. Click here to see what you can do.

This information is from a great resource for information about the national effort to end child marriage in the US – MA is prominent on their website. The website also has videos and personal stories from women who were child brides in the US.  

Download 2019 End Child Marriage Fact Sheet for 191st Sessionunchained

H.1478 and S.24, An Act To End Child Marriage in Massachusetts
Lead Sponsors: Representative Kay Khan and
Senator Harriette L. Chandler


  • Our current statutes are inadequate to address this unique challenge. Therefore, this bill would ban marriage under the age of 18 which is presently allowed with parental and judicial consent.


 Nearly 1,231 children as young as 14 were married in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2016 – and 83.7 percent (1,030) of them were girls wed to adult men. For example, a 14-year-old girl married a 23-year-old man in 2003. The oldest person during this time period to marry a minor was a 39-year-old man who married a 17-year-old girl in 2014.

  • A national study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 estimated that nearly 1.7 million children/women in the U.S. had gotten married at age 15 or younger and over 9.4 million had married at age 16 or younger.
  •  Delaware and New Jersey in 2018 became the first states to pass bills to end all child marriage (marriage before 18), without exceptions. Other states also are considering legislation to end all marriage before 18, without exceptions. Similar legislation also passed recently in several other states, though those bills were not as strong: They still allow marriage before 18 in some circumstances.
  • Married children, because they are minors, face many obstacles when they try to leave or resist such a marriage including obtaining services from the Department of Children and Families, bringing legal action including filing for divorce, renting, shelter admission, and opening a checking account.
  • Child marriage undermines the child’s health, education and economic opportunities and increases the risk of domestic violence and divorce. Between 70-80% of marriages involving children end in divorce. For teen mothers, getting married and later divorcing can more than double the likelihood for poverty.
  • A 2006 Department of Justice study found that girls and young women aged 16-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence among all such victims, noting that girls aged 16-19 face victimization rates almost triple the national average.
  • Women who marry in their teens tend to have more children, earlier and more closely spaced, which can prevent them from accessing education and work opportunities, limiting their earning power and ability to be financially independent in the event of domestic violence or divorce. Women who marry before the age of 19 are 50% more likely to drop out of high school and four times less likely to graduate from college.