Hogan Lovells pro bono team helps draft legislation to end child marriage in Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C., 8 July 2016 – A team of Hogan Lovells lawyers helped draft legislation that raises the minimum age for marriage in Virginia to 18 (except in the case of emancipated minors). The law, which took effect on 1 July 2016, aims to protect minors from coerced or forced marriage.

In partnership with the firm's pro bono client Tahirih Justice Center (Tahirih), the Hogan Lovells legal team pulled and analyzed state health data to document Virginia's child marriage problem; researched concerns raised by child marriage, including limitations on children’s legal rights and access to protections from abuse; analyzed existing laws on underage marriage; and helped draft the legislation that was successfully championed by bipartisan sponsors. Among other critical reforms in the new Virginia law, eliminating provisions that enabled parental consent (and, for younger minors, evidence of pregnancy) to be enough to authorize clerks to issue marriage licenses to children – exceptions that had been used for pregnant girls as young as 13 – removes the ability of a parent to easily coerce or force a child into marriage. The firm's lawyers and staff are continuing to research the child marriage problem and laws in other states and to partner with Tahirih to press for legislative reform in every state to end child marriage in the U.S.

In the United States, child marriage is a particular issue for teenage girls. In the decade between 2000 and 2010, there were approximately 14,000 child marriages in just four states – New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. Most of those were teenage girls who married adult men, many of those men were significantly older, and some were even decades older.

This collaboration represents a large-scale, multi-year, and firm-wide commitment to help advance Tahirih's public policy objectives to end forced and child marriage in the U.S., problems that have diverse impact on both immigrant and non-immigrant families.

The Hogan Lovells pro bono team includes partners Elizabeth Halpern and Beth Roberts, senior associate David Sharfstein, associates Haley Adams, Nadia Aksentijevich, Katie Duncan, and Olivia Jahn, with critical research assistance from Rebecca Robinson.

About Tahirih Justice Center

Tahirih Justice Center is a national non-profit that protects courageous immigrant women and girls who refuse to be victims of violence by elevating their voices in communities, courts, and Congress.

About Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells is a leading global legal practice providing business-oriented legal advice and high-quality service across its exceptional breadth of practices to clients around the world.

"Hogan Lovells" or the "firm" is an international legal practice that includes Hogan Lovells US LLP and Hogan Lovells International LLP. For more information, see www.hoganlovells.com.



Robert Snoddy

Public Relations Manager

+1 202 637 6826


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