The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 will raise the age of marriage and civil partnership in England and Wales to eighteen years old on 27 February 2023. This removes the old right for sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds to marry or enter a civil partnership with parental consent. It is now an offence for a person to cause a child under the age of eighteen to enter into a religious or civil ceremony of marriage, even if the ‘marriage’ would not be legally binding.
The Act is not retrospective, meaning it will not affect the validity of marriages or civil partnerships entered into before the legislation comes into force (27 February 2023).
The Act seeks to protect children from forced marriages. Under the old legislation, forced marriage is an offence only if the person uses a type of coercion to cause a child to marry or if the person lacks the capacity to consent to marry under the Mental Capacity Act. However, many children enter forced marriages without explicit coercion, such as threats, but due to much more covert coercion such as religious beliefs or in response to familial disapproval of their sexual orientation (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender etc) (Childline 2022). The Act, however, enables a conviction of forced marriage without needing to prove any form of coercion was used, which widens the next of protection for children in England and Wales.
Stalwart Solicitors is happy to talk to you regarding the facts and nature of your marriage or civil partnership.
Please contact us for a 30-minute free video chat, web chat or telephone call to start the conversation and to see how we can help. We are available 24/7 through the following platforms:
Telephone: 0345 222 0452