Marriage age could rise to 17 in Georgia

Young couples might have to wait until they’re 17 years old to get married in Georgia.

A bill introduced in the Georgia House would raise the minimum marriage age from 16 to 17 with parental consent.

If approved, Georgia would join 11 other states where couples have to be 17 or older to marry, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Most states, including Georgia, allow 16-year-olds to marry if they have permission from their parents.

"Couples that marry early have a higher likelihood of divorce," said state Rep. Andy Welch, a Republican from McDonough who introduced House Bill 228 on Friday. "I'm concerned about their well-being in making those decisions because it does have a significant impact on their future."

Those under 18 would 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.