Today marks a change in the law relating to marriage in England and Wales: Individuals must be 18 in order to marry or enter a civil partnership.
Spratt Endicott has been following the progress of the the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022, which gained Royal Assent in April last year. The act has come into force today.
Before today, individuals could get married at 16 or 17 if they had parental consent. Concerns were raised by campaigners that vulnerable children were left unprotected by the law in the event their parents agree to the marriage.
The change in law makes it illegal to arrange for children to marry under any circumstances, whether or not force is used. Those found guilty of the offence will face up to 7 years in prison.
The new legislation also covers non-legally binding ceremonies. The new legislation does not, however, apply to Scotland, where the minimum age is 16, or Northern Ireland, where parental consent is required for those under 18.