Bill To Restrict Underage Marriages Approved By House Committee

Jan 28, 2020

It will be significantly harder to get married under age 18 in Indiana if a bill approved by a House committee Monday becomes law.

More than 500 Hoosier minors have gotten married in the last five years, the vast majority of them girls.

Under current law, anyone under age 18 must have parental consent. And minors as young as 15 can get married in Indiana, if the girl is pregnant.

Donna Pollard was one such girl. She says the system makes it very hard for child brides like herself to escape often abusive spouses.

“And even though I tried to escape at both 16 and 17, I was refused housing by two different Indiana apartment complexes because I could not enter into a contract as a minor,” Pollard says.

New legislation says no one under age 17 can get married. And it says parental consent and pregnancy are no longer factors – instead, Rep. Karen Engleman (R-Georgetown) says judges must consider whether the minors who want to get married are self-sufficient.

“Also require the judge to interview the minor in private, in chambers, to provide an opportunity outside of open court for the minor to disclose any threats she may be facing,” Engleman says.

The bill is headed to the House floor.

Contact Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.