Marriage age raised to 17 in Georgia

Credit: Emily Haney

Credit: Emily Haney

A new Georgia law requires couples to be at least 17 years old before they can get married.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the measure into law Monday, raising the state's minimum marriage age from 16 to 17.

Legislators said increasing the marriage age will help protect teenagers from marrying before they're ready.

>> Bill Tracker: See which bills Gov. Kemp has signed, vetoed

Young women in particular are vulnerable to exploitation and abusive relationships, said state Rep. Andy Welch, a Republican from McDonough, before the General Assembly voted to approve House Bill 228.

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

Georgia joins about a dozen states that require children to be at least 17 years old before they can marry, even with parental consent.

The new law also prevents 17-year-olds from marrying partners more than four years older than them.