With bill ending child marriage hitting a snag, advocate forges ahead

02/28/2018 11:31 AM

Donna Pollard was married at 16 to a 29 year old man, that marriage resulted in domestic violence and sexual exploitation and she is now attempting to change the law in the Commonwealth, so no other child can be married underage without judicial consent.

Senate Bill 48, is sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, and is aimed at raising the legal age for most marriages to 18 years old and would establish a ceiling of 4 years age difference between 17-year-olds and the adult that they are seeking to marry.

The legislation hit a roadblock recently, as some lawmakers are concerned that the legislation replaces parents with the courts or government in general.

“I think what we need to focus on as well is that in some cases parents have used child marriage to traffic their own children,“ Pollard said, referencing survivors who had experienced that abuse. “What we’re looking to accomplish is to ensure that no child is put in a position where they’re not on equal footing legally with the person they’re seeking to marry.”

Pollard told Pure Politics in an interview on Tuesday that she doesn’t see judicial approval an infringement of parental rights, but rather an extra protection for minors.

Senate Judiciary chair Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, said the SB 48 will likely be called before his committee on Thursday. He predicted that committee members will can “find a compromise.”

Pollard said one are of compromise could be for parents to petition the court, but a judge should still have discretion of what’s in a child’s best interest, as they seek an underage marriage.

Child marriage is still prevalent in Kentucky, with nearly 11,000 cases documented since the year 2000, Pollard said.

_Watch the full interview for Pollards story and he take on the process to change the marriage law in Kentucky. _

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