03/05/2019 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- Georgia State Rep. Andrew Welch speaks in the House at the state Capitol building, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Bill raising Georgia’s marriage age to 17 advances

A bill raising Georgia’s marriage age to 17 is moving closer to approval.

The state Senate will consider the legislation after it passed the state House on a 158-13 vote last week.

The measure, House Bill 228, increases the minimum marriage age from 16 to 17 with parental consent. Most states, including Georgia, currently allow 16-year-olds to marry if they have permission from their parents.

Eleven states require couples to be 17 or older to marry, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State Rep. Andy Welch, a Republican from McDonough, said in a state House speech that raising the marriage age would help prevent young couples from making a premature and potentially harmful decision.

He said young women in particular are susceptible to exploitation, cervical cancer and abusive relationships.

Before those under 18 could marry, they’d have to complete at least six hours of premarital education from a professional, including instruction on conflict management, communication skills, financial responsibilities and parenting responsibilities. They would also have to be freed from parental control by a judge.

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