Background

When is it too young to marry?

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The minimum legal age to marry or enter a civil partnership is set to rise

Currently the law in England and Wales states that a child between the ages of 16 and 17 can be legally married, with parental consent (without parental consent, the minimum age is 18). Charities have long warned that for children under the age of 18, parental consent could be used to exploit and coerce young people into marriage.

The introduction of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022, plans to change the minimum age.

Once enacted, the Act will prevent children under the age of 18 from being legally married in England and Wales. Should a 16 or 17 year old be married in another country, this will also not be recognised as a legalised marriage in England and Wales.

It is common knowledge that since 2013, all children have been required to continue in their education until they reach the age of 18, under the Education and Skills Act 2008. Children at the age of 16, are potentially not experienced enough to be able to make major decisions that could shape their future career and ultimately the lives they lead.

Marrying and having children at a very young age could restrict a person’s chances in life and the introduction of this Act will serve to further safeguard the next generation. The Act aims to make sure that young people are supported in maximising their potential life chances which includes the opportunity to remain in education or training until they reach the age of 18.

We have a long way to go before the Act comes into play with Royal Assent only being given on 28 April 2022. However, we will provide a further update, as more details arise.

How our family solicitors can help

If you require advice and help about the potential validity of your marriage and you would like to discuss further how Hunt & Coombs can help you with this or any other area of family law or divorce please contact our Family Law Services & Divorce Team on 01773 882800 or email [email protected].


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