California Considers Bill to Regulate (But Not Prohibit) Child Marriage

July 19, 2017

By Sherry F. Colb

In California, there is no minimum age for getting married. Minors may marry even people much older than themselves so long as they have parental permission and a judge’s order. Outside of marriage, on the other hand, the age of consent to sex is 18. In response to this state of affairs, the legislature is currently considering SB273. As currently amended, the bill increases family court oversight of marriages that include a minor to ensure that there is no coercion, but it does not impose any age restrictions on who may enter into marriage. Prior to its amendment, as originally proposed by Senator Jerry Hill, the bill would have barred marriage for anyone under the age of 18, but his proposal encountered opposition from groups such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood as well as from fellow legislators.