Child marriage still legal in Michigan

“I recall being sick from school and having my husband have to call me out - those were weird”
5,426 child marriages have been reported in Michigan over the last 20 years.
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 5:53 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - You have to be 21 to buy beer, 18 to vote, and 16 to get a driver’s license – but in Michigan, kids as young as 14 can get married to adults. There have been attempts over the years to ban child marriage in Michigan but they’ve never gained enough traction.

Courtney Kosnick was 17 years old and had just finished her junior year of high school when she married a 28-year-old man.

“He was definitely a predator. Somebody who picked me out of a local coffee house and knew that I would be a good target,” said Kosnick. “And it took 23 years for me to escape that situation,”

Kosnick made the decision to marry – she also made the decision to divorce. Because she was a minor, no one would take her case.

“And I called around to a whole bunch and the answer I got was ‘Go back home.’ I didn’t have a home to go back to, I didn’t have a parent to go back to to protect me,” Kosnick said. “I couldn’t go into a domestic abuse shelter. Verbal and physical abuse began on my honeymoon.”

Courtney said it took until 2016 to get divorced and until this year to get her life back in order. Her story is a familiar one. 5,426 child marriages have been reported in Michigan over the last 20 years.

“This happens all the time. Anyone under 16 who is getting married in the state of Michigan and that marriage is consummated, the older spouse has committed rape. Which laws are we going to follow in this state?” said Kosnick.

Since 2018, State Rep. Sarah Anthony has been introducing a bill that bans child marriage in the state of Michigan.

“We are continuing to ask the chair of the judiciary committee to give this bill a hearing. If not the judiciary committee – the families, children’s, and seniors committee – anyone who will listen in this Capitol building. We’re asking for them to prioritize the needs of children over the needs of political interest,” said Anthony.

As of July 2022:

States with similar child marriage lawsStates with child marriage bans
CaliforniaNew Jersey
New MexicoPennsylvania
WashingtonRhode Island
West VirginiaNew York

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