The state Senate has passed legislation that would ban child marriage in Missouri. Under the bill from Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, R-Scott City, she wants to ban marriages for anyone under 18, without exceptions.

“Right now, in Missouri, you can get married at age 16 with a parent’s consent,” she said. “This bill changes that age to where you have to be an adult. So, you have to be able to sign for yourself to get married. So, it bans child marriage.”

Rehder points to the divorce rate being “incredibly high” among couples who got married when they were children. 

Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

“For the people who find themselves trapped in these kinds of marriages, it makes all the world of difference, and we have an opportunity to do something and to prevent more horrific stories from taking place,” she said.

According to Sen. Rehder, if someone does not follow the requirements of the divorce proceeding, they could be forced to pay.

“If you have to take your ex-spouse back to court to get them to do what they’ve already been ordered to do in court,” Rehder said. “Then, they have to pay for the fees that you are being charged; make them do what they have already been told to do.”

The bill heads to the House for additional work.

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