HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO MINORS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that child marriage has a negative impact on the physical, mental, social, and economic well-being of individuals who marry while underage. Women and girls who marry before age eighteen are especially at risk. Child, or underage, marriage has been linked to higher rates of diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Young women and girls who marry between the ages of sixteen and nineteen are three times more likely than the national average to experience intimate partner violence. Women and girls who marry while underage are often isolated from their families, friends, schools, and other support networks, making it difficult for them to escape or gain financial independence from abusive partners. Many individuals who marry while underage develop mood and anxiety disorders, including major depressive disorder. Child marriage frequently interrupts education, limits employment opportunities, and caps earning potential, and those who marry while underage are thirty-one per cent more likely to live in future poverty. Underage marriages are also unlikely to be successful in the long term. Between seventy to eighty per cent of marriages where one or more partners was underage at the time of marriage ultimately end in divorce.
The legislature recognizes that these concerns have led many states to amend or to consider amending their laws on the minimum age for marriage. Under existing laws in Hawaii, minors as young as sixteen years of age may marry with parental consent, and family courts may approve marriages for minors as young as fifteen years of age. The department of health's office of health status monitoring found that, between 2010 and 2020, one hundred and ninety-four marriages took place in the State where at least one party was a resident and one or more of the parties were under the age of eighteen. While in most cases both parties were under the age of eighteen, in some cases there were age differences between the parties of up to twenty-one years.
Accordingly, the purpose of this part is to protect the well-being of minors in the State by:
(1) Raising the minimum age to marry in Hawaii from sixteen to eighteen years of age;
(2) Providing that minors may not marry, even with judicial or parental consent;
(3) Requiring, rather than permitting, family court judges to declare marriage contracts void on the grounds that one or both parties had not attained legal age at the time of the marriage;
(4) Removing spousal cohabitation after the parties attained legal age as an exception for an annulment to be decreed on the grounds that at least one of the parties was not of legal age at the time of marriage; and
(5) Making conforming amendments.
SECTION 2. Section 386-43, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:
"(a) The weekly benefits to dependents shall continue:
(1) To a surviving spouse or reciprocal beneficiary, until death, remarriage, marriage, or entry into a new reciprocal beneficiary relationship with two years' compensation in one sum upon remarriage, marriage, or entry into a new reciprocal beneficiary relationship;
(2) To or for a child:
So long as
unmarried, until] Until attainment of the age of eighteen;
(B) So long as unmarried, until attainment of the age of:
(i) Twenty if the child is a full-time student at a high school, business school, technical school; or
(ii) Twenty-two if the child is a full-time undergraduate student at a college; or
(C) So long as
unmarried, until termination of the child's incapability of self-support; [
or (D) Until
marriage, except that in the case of a married child under eighteen, weekly
benefits shall continue during the period of actual dependency until attainment
of the age of eighteen;]
(3) To a parent or grandparent, for the duration, whether continuous or not, of the actual dependency, provided that the amount of the weekly benefits shall at no time exceed the amount payable at the time of death; and
(4) To or for a grandchild, brother, or sister, for the period in which that grandchild, brother, or sister remains actually and wholly dependent until attainment of the age of eighteen or termination of the incapability of self-support."
SECTION 3. Section 571-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended as follows:
1. By amending the definition of "guardianship of a minor" to read:
""Guardianship of a minor" means the duty and authority to make important decisions in matters having a permanent effect on the life and development of the minor and to be concerned about the minor's general welfare. It includes, but shall not necessarily be limited, in either number or kind to:
(1) The authority to
to marriage,] to enlistment in the armed forces of the United
States[ ,] or to major medical, psychiatric, and surgical treatment; to
represent the minor in legal actions; or to make other decisions concerning
the minor of substantial legal significance;
(2) The authority and duty of reasonable visitation, except to the extent that the right of visitation has been limited by court order;
(3) The rights and responsibilities of legal custody when guardianship is exercised by the natural or adoptive parent, except where legal custody has been vested in another individual, agency, or institution; and
(4) The authority to consent to the adoption of the minor and to make any other decision concerning the minor that the minor's parents could make, when the rights of the minor's parents, or only living parent, have been judicially terminated as provided for in the statutes governing termination of parental rights to facilitate legal adoption, or when both of the minor's legal parents are deceased."
2. By amending the definition of "residual parental rights and responsibilities" to read:
""Residual parental rights
and responsibilities" means those rights and responsibilities remaining
with the parent after the transfer of legal custody or guardianship of the
person, including, but not necessarily limited to, the right to reasonable
visitation, consent to adoption [
or marriage], and the responsibility for
SECTION 4. Section 571-11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§571-11 Jurisdiction; children. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in proceedings:
(1) Concerning any person who is alleged to have committed an act prior to achieving eighteen years of age that would constitute a violation or attempted violation of any federal, state, or local law or county ordinance. Regardless of where the violation occurred, jurisdiction may be taken by the court of the circuit where the person resides, is living, or is found, or in which the offense is alleged to have occurred;
(2) Concerning any child living or found within the circuit:
(A) Who is neglected as to or deprived of educational services because of the failure of any person or agency to exercise that degree of care for which it is legally responsible;
(B) Who is beyond the control of the child's parent or other custodian or whose behavior is injurious to the child's own or others' welfare;
(C) Who is neither attending school nor receiving educational services required by law whether through the child's own misbehavior or nonattendance or otherwise; or
(D) Who is in violation of curfew;
(3) To determine the custody of any child or appoint a guardian of any child;
(4) For the adoption of a person under chapter 578;
(5) For the termination of parental rights under sections 571-61 through 571-63;
(6) For judicial
consent to the [
marriage,] employment[ ,] or enlistment of a child[ ,]
when consent is required by law;
(7) For the treatment or commitment of a mentally defective or mentally ill child, or a child with an intellectual disability;
(8) Under the Interstate Compact on Juveniles under chapter 582 or the Interstate Compact for Juveniles under chapter 582D;
(9) For the protection of any child under chapter 587A; and
(10) For a change of name as provided in section 574‑5(a)(2)(C)."
SECTION 5. Section 572-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§572-1 Requisites of valid marriage contract. In order to make valid the marriage contract, which shall be permitted between two individuals without regard to gender, it shall be necessary that:
(1) The respective parties do not stand in relation to each other of ancestor and descendant of any degree whatsoever, two siblings of the half as well as to the whole blood, uncle and niece, uncle and nephew, aunt and nephew, or aunt and niece, whether the relationship is the result of the issue of parents married or not married to each other or parents who are partners in a civil union or not partners in a civil union;
(2) Each of the
parties at the time of contracting the marriage is at least [
years of age; [ provided that with the written approval of the family court
of the circuit within which the minor resides, it shall be lawful for a person
under the age of sixteen years, but in no event under the age of fifteen years,
to marry, subject to section 572-2;]
(3) Neither party has at the time any lawful wife, husband, or civil union partner living, except as provided in section 572-1.7;
(4) Consent of neither party to the marriage has been obtained by force, duress, or fraud;
(5) Neither of the parties is a person afflicted with any loathsome disease concealed from, and unknown to, the other party;
(6) The parties to be married in the State shall have duly obtained a license for that purpose from the agent appointed to grant marriage licenses; and
(7) The marriage ceremony be performed in the State by a person or society with a valid license to solemnize marriages and the parties to be married and the person performing the marriage ceremony be all physically present at the same place and time for the marriage ceremony."
SECTION 6. Section 572-10, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
under age. If any applicant for a
license to marry appears to any agent to be under the age of eighteen years,
the] Age of applicants. The agent shall[ ,] require,
before granting a license to marry, the production of a certificate of birth or
other satisfactory proof showing the age of [ the applicant.] both applicants."
SECTION 7. Section 580-21, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§580-21 Grounds for annulment. (a) The family court, by a decree of nullity, may declare void the marriage contract for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage:
(1) That the parties stood in relation to each other
of ancestor and descendant of any degree whatsoever, [
brother and sister]
two siblings of the half as well as the whole blood, uncle and niece, uncle
and nephew, aunt and nephew, or aunt and niece, whether the
relationship is the result of the issue of parents married or not married to
(2) That the parties, or either of them, had
not attained the legal age of marriage; (3)] (2) That [ the
husband had an undivorced wife living, or the wife had an undivorced husband]
either of the parties had an undivorced spouse living;
(4)] (3) That one of the parties lacked the mental
capacity to consent to the marriage;
(5)] (4) That consent to the marriage of the party
applying for annulment was obtained by force, duress, or fraud, and there has
been no subsequent cohabitation; and
(6)] (5) That one of the parties was a sufferer of or
afflicted with any loathsome disease and the fact was concealed from, and
unknown to, the party applying for annulment.
(b) The family court, by a decree of nullity, shall declare void the marriage contract on the ground that the parties, or either of them, had not attained the legal age of marriage at the time of the marriage."
SECTION 8. Section 580-22, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§580-22 Nonage. An action to annul a marriage on the ground
that one of the parties was under legal age[
,] may be brought by the
parent or guardian entitled to the custody of the minor, or by any person
admitted by the court to prosecute as the friend of the minor. In no case shall the marriage be annulled on
the application of a party who was of legal age at the time it was contracted[ ;
nor when it appears that the parties, after they attained the legal age, had
for any time freely cohabited as man and wife]."
SECTION 9. Section 572-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is repealed.
§572-2 Consent of parent or
guardian. Whenever any person
who is under the age of eighteen is to be married, the written consent of his
or her parents, or guardian or other person in whose care and custody he or she
may be, shall accompany the application for a license to marry. No license shall be issued to any minor who
is under the jurisdiction of the family court without the written consent of a
judge of such court."]
SECTION 10. Section 572-9, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is repealed.
§572-9 Persons under age. Whenever any person who is under the age of
eighteen, whose parents are dead, or who is a ward of a family court, applies
for a license to marry, he or she shall set forth in the statement accompanying
the application, the name of his or her guardian or of any other person in
whose care and custody he or she may be."]
SECTION 11. Section 577-25, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is repealed.
[§577-25] Eman cipation of certain minors. Any law to the contrary notwithstanding, a
minor who has been married pursuant to chapter 572 shall be deemed to be
emancipated and shall be regarded as though he or she were of legal age and
shall have all the rights, duties, privileges, and responsibilities provided by
the civil law to a person who has reached the age of majority under civil law;
provided that: (1) Nothing in this
section shall be deemed to confer upon such person the right to vote in any federal,
state, or county election or the right to purchase, possess, or sell alcoholic
beverages; and (2) Nothing in this
section shall change the status of such persons as minors in connection with
any criminal law, nor affect the exclusive original jurisdiction of the family
court over such persons under section 571-11(1). For purposes of this section,
"minor" means a person under the age of majority."]
SECTION 12. Section 577-25, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
Emancipation of certain minors.
(a) Any law to the
contrary notwithstanding, a minor who has [ been married pursuant to chapter
572] received a complete or partial emancipation order from a court pursuant
to this section shall be deemed to be emancipated and shall be regarded as
though he or she were of legal age and shall have all the rights, duties,
privileges, and responsibilities provided by the civil law to a person who has
reached the age of majority under civil law; provided that:
(1) Nothing in this
section shall be deemed to confer upon [
such] the emancipated
person the right to vote in any federal, state, or county election or the right
to purchase, possess, or sell alcoholic beverages; [ and]
(2) Nothing in this
section shall change the status of [
such] emancipated persons as
minors in connection with any criminal law, nor affect the exclusive original
jurisdiction of the family court over [ such] these persons under
section 571-11(1)[ .]; and
(3) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to confer upon a partially emancipated minor any rights and responsibilities aside from those specified in the order of the court.
(b) For purposes of this section[
"Guardian" has the same meaning as defined in section 327‑2.
"Mature minor" means a person over sixteen years of age but under eighteen years of age who has demonstrated the ability and capacity to manage the minor's own affairs and to live wholly or partially independently of the minor's parents, guardians, or custodians.
means a person under the age of majority[ .] but not less than sixteen
"Parent" has the same meaning as defined in section 327-2.
(c) The circuit court in the county where the minor resides, is found, owns property, or in which a court action affecting the interests of the minor is pending may, upon the filing of a petition by the minor, and after any hearing or notice to all persons as set forth in subsections (f), (g), and (h), enter a finding that the minor is a mature minor and order complete or partial emancipation of the minor.
(d) The court shall retain continuing jurisdiction over the proceedings until the emancipated minor reaches the age of eighteen and may modify or terminate its previous emancipation orders; provided that any subsequent modification or termination of a previous order shall be effective only prospectively and shall not affect any rights, duties, obligations, or causes of action existing prior to the modification or termination of any order.
(e) The petition for emancipation shall be verified and shall include:
(1) The age of the minor;
(2) Confirmation that the minor is a resident of, owns real estate in, or is a party in any case pending in the State;
(3) A description of the cause for which the minor seeks to obtain partial or complete emancipation;
(4) The names of the minor's parents and their address or addresses, if living;
(5) The names and addresses of any guardians or custodians appointed for the minor;
(6) Documentation supporting a finding that the minor is a mature minor who has demonstrated the ability and capacity to manage the minor's own affairs; and
(7) Documentation confirming that the minor has lived wholly or partially independently of the minor's parents, guardian, or custodian.
(f) All persons named in the petition shall be given written notice within twenty-one days after the filing of the petition for emancipation. Those persons shall have a right to be present at any hearing and to be represented by counsel. All notices shall be served on the persons named in the petition either by personal service or by certified mail.
(g) Before proceeding to a hearing on the petition for emancipation of a mature minor, the court shall advise all persons present of the nature of the proceedings and of their rights and responsibilities if an order of emancipation should be entered.
(h) If, after the hearing, the court determines that the minor is a mature minor who is of sound mind and has the capacity and maturity to manage the minor's own affairs, including financial affairs, and that the best interests of the minor and the minor's family will be promoted by declaring the minor an emancipated minor, the court shall enter a finding that the minor is an emancipated minor within the meaning of this section, or that the mature minor is partially emancipated with any limitations the court deems appropriate.
(i) No order of complete or partial emancipation shall be entered under this section if there is any objection by the minor. An order of complete or partial emancipation may be entered under this section if there is an objection by the minor's parents or guardian only if the court finds, after a hearing and in writing, that emancipation would be in the best interests of the minor.
(j) Any judgment or order allowing or denying a complete or partial emancipation is a final order for purposes of appeal."
SECTION 13. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.
SECTION 14. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 15. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
Marriage; Legal Age; Annulment; Emancipation
Raises the minimum age to marry from 16 to 18 years of age. Provides that minors may not marry, even with parental or judicial consent. Requires family court judges to declare marriage contracts void on the grounds that one or both parties had not attained legal age at the time of marriage. Removes spousal cohabitation after the parties attained legal age as an exception for an annulment on the grounds that at least one of the parties was not of legal age at the time of the marriage. Allows a court to order the complete or partial emancipation of a minor under certain circumstances. Makes conforming amendments.
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.