Sherry Johnson, now 58-years of old, was married when she was just 11. She grew up in the state of Florida and at the age of 10, she was raped by a man who was well-known to her family. At age 10, Johnson also became pregnant. To avoid incrimination, her mother felt it was best that she married this man, who was 20-years-old at the time, nearly double the age of Johnson. Johnson was forced to marry her rapist because of the loopholes that existed in Florida’s marriage laws that permitted a child to marry given his or her parent consented to the marriage and the judge approved the request.
Unfortunately, Johnson’s mother was determined to find a judge that would allow her daughter to get married, and she did. But, Johnson isn’t the only child who has been forced to marry at a young age, an age in which she wasn’t qualified to make adult decisions. According to the Orlando Sentinel, 3,161 children were married in the state of Florida between 2010 and 2016, 72 of them under the age of 16. But, the truth is, “girls who marry before 18 are faced with an increased risk of issues such as poverty, dropping out of high school, divorce, and sexual and domestic violence,” according to Gus Corbella who is a lobbyist for the non-profit Tahirih Justice Center.
Because child marriages are finally being recognized for being inappropriate and potentially unethical, a bill was passed to ban marriage for anyone under 18. While the Senate unanimously passed the bill, the following day, a House committee approved exceptions for 16-and-17-year-olds in cases of pregnancy if their partners were no more than two years older than the minors and their parents consented to the marriage.
Although a complete ban was the overall goal of the bill, Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen wanted to account for real-life situations that involved teens becoming pregnant. Unlike how the laws were structured before, the new bill would set the age limit for marriage and a doctor would have to confirm the pregnancy as well as that the male partner was the father. While some lawmakers are pro child marriages, others simply want to amend the current laws that are active to help prevent more cases similar to Johnson’s from happening.
What if my marriage wasn’t meant to be and I want to get a divorce?
Some individuals, such as children who are forced into a marriage, decide that after being committed to a person, that is just isn’t meant to be. One of the reasons why there has been a push to end child marriages is that many teenagers and anyone younger simply do not have the mental capacity to handle such a mature move. And when a person is forced into something that isn’t meant to be, they often turn to divorce later on down the road.
If you or someone you know is considering filing for divorce as the marriage you are in isn’t what you expected it to be, let USAttorneys.com connect you with a local Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer now who is eager to help you. Depending on the circumstances, divorces can sometimes become difficult and even stressful so it is always a good idea to have a legal representative protecting your interests.