WoCoBoCo wants to help you make your voice heard. Writing to your legislator is a critical way of letting your opinions be heard.

Regarding House Bill 19-1251, Age of Marriage & Emancipation Procedure

Dear Representative _____________:

Nearly a quarter-million children as young as 12 were married in the US between 2000 and 2010 – mostly girls wed to adult men.  

The impacts of marriage before age 18 are devastating.  Before they reach this ‘age of majority,’ young people usually cannot access the legal resources they need to protect themselves from being forced into marriage or to escape from an abusive marriage. Often they cannot access domestic violence shelters, retain an attorney (because contracts with children typically are voidable), or file a legal action such as a divorce.  

Girls must grapple with all these barriers if they try to avoid or leave a marriage, but their adult husbands face no such barriers.  Child marriage is associated with higher rates of death resulting from childbirth, unwanted pregnancies, pregnancy termination and malnutrition in the offspring. Women who married at 18 or younger have a 23 percent greater risk of disease onset, including heart attack, diabetes, cancer and stroke.  Child marriage is also associated with higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and early pregnancies, because child brides are often unable to negotiate access to safe sex and medical care.

I support HB 19-1251. It sets the legal age of marriage at 18 and integrates new, functional criteria for legal emancipation (a county court process) that can be initiated by a person at age 16 ½.  The criteria includes demonstrating the capability of self-support and managing her/his financial and personal affairs.  Once attaining the legal rights of an adult, the emancipated minor can marry. This sets an independent, functional threshold & process that resolve most of the problems associated with early marriage for girls.

Current Colorado law only requires parental permission to marry at age 16, and if under age 16, it requires parental and judicial approval.  In practice, this has entrapped (mostly) young women into a legal contract they cannot escape for years, even if their safety depends on it.  This Colorado law is due for major improvement!

I respectfully request that you support HB19-1251 and work with other legislators to ensure clear and just language for its passage.

 Thank you for your support to end child marriage in Colorado.