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The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022
- AuthorMark Robinson
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 received Royal Assent in April 2022 will come into effect on 27 February 2023. The Act will raise the age of marriage and civil partnership from 16 to 18 in England and Wales although will not affect the validity of any marriages or civil partnerships entered into before 27 February 2023.
As a result of this Act, it will no longer possible for a marriage or civil partnership to take place where one of the parties is under 18, even with parental or judicial consent. Additionally, where a marriage or civil partnership is entered into abroad (including Scotland and Northern Ireland) and one of the parties to the marriage or civil partnership is domiciled in England and Wales, and one of the parties is under the age of eighteen, the marriage will not be legally recognised in England and Wales. The Act also makes it an offence for a person to cause a child under the age of 18 to enter into a religious or civil ceremony of marriage before the child’s 18th birthday, even if this marriage would not be legally binding.
The purpose of the Act is to protect children from what is described as the ‘scourge’ of forced marriage, by expanding the criminal offence of forced marriage in England and Wales to make it an offence in all circumstances to do anything intended to cause a child to marry before they are 18. Currently forced marriage is only an offence if there is evidence of coercion, or if the person lacks capacity to consent to marry under the Mental Capacity Act. ,
For full details of the provisions of this Act, please see Marriage And Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 (legislation.gov.uk)