Today, 27 February 2023, the law relating to Marriage and Civil Partnerships in England and Wales is changing. From today, the minimum age at which a person can marry or enter a civil partnership will increase from 16 years old to 18 years old. The original bill was introduced to parliament by MP Pauline Latham who said it would “transform the life chances of many girls”.
The earliest age at which a person has been able to get married or enter a civil partnership is 16 years, with their parent or legal guardian’s consent. The changes take away a parents ability to consent to, or otherwise arrange, the child’s marriage.
The change to the law also extends existing forced marriage legislation, making it an offence to arrange the marriage of a child before their 18th birthday, even where force, threats or coercion are not used. The new offence carries a sentence of up to 7 years imprisonment.
The new law means that both parties to a marriage or civil partnership will need to be 18 years old. This extends and applies to cultural or religious marriages not registered with the council.
In relation to marriages and civil partnerships entered before this date where the parties are under 18, they remain valid. The new law only affects marriages and civil partnerships entered after 27 February 2023.
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If you have any questions in relation to this news, please do not hesitate to contact our Family Team who would be happy to help.