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Fox 13 compiles numbers on underage marriage in Utah after rep. proposes ban

Posted at 6:35 PM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 20:35:57-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- State Representative Angela Romero, a Democrat from Salt Lake City, announced her intention to introduce legislation outlawing marriage before the age of 18.

Current state law allows 15 year olds to marry with a juvenile court judge's consent and parental permission, while 16 and 17 year olds can marry with their parents' permission.

Fox 13 looked into vital statistics available from Utah state government to see how many minors in Utah marry each year. We found statistics on marriage age from 2007-2010.

Some key facts:

  • 253 minors married in Utah in 2010, a small fraction of Utah's 23,610 marriages that year.
  • There are far more child brides than child grooms. Between 2007 and 2010, Utah had 218 grooms under 18 and 1,167 brides under 18.
  • Very few 15-year-olds get married, and they are all girls. between 2007 and 2010, 14 girls who were 15 years old got married.
  • The average age for the men who married those 15-year-old girls was 19. The oldest man to marry a 15-year-old was 22.

A national organization called "Unchained at Last" compiles statistics on underage marriage. They say 248,000 such marriages occurred in the United States between 2000 and 2010. They see the same trend of underage girls getting married at a much higher rate than boys.

Unchained at Last says Utah has the nation's fifth highest rate of underage marriage, though state statistics do not count child brides in polygamous communities who do not register their marriages with the state.

Only one state in the country currently bans all underage marriage. Delaware passed the law on May 9, 2018. Yes, that's last week.