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TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — New Jersey has become the second state in the nation to bar marriage for anyone under 18.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill Friday. Delaware enacted a ban in May.
Murphy says the legislation would put an end to child marriages and particularly help young women.
The law bars the state from issuing marriage or civil union licenses anyone under 18, regardless of parental or judicial consent.
“In New Jersey, we are dedicated to protecting children by putting an end to child marriages by raising the minimum age to 18,” said Murphy. “Studies have consistently showed that minors who enter into marriage – particularly young women – are less likely to graduate from high school and college and more likely to suffer domestic abuse and live in poverty. I am proud to join with the Legislature to make New Jersey a national leader on this important human rights issue.”
Under previous law parents or guardians could consent to underage marriage, and if the minor was under 16, a judge also had to consent.
The most recent data from the New Jersey Department of Health show there have been 123 marriages with either partner under 18 from 2011-2016.
Lawmakers and advocates say the legislation is necessary to prevent forced marriages.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)