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Legal age of Marriage in England and Wales rises to 18

On 27 February 2023, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022, enters into force. This means that 16 and 17 year olds will no longer be allowed to marry or enter a Civil Partnership, even if they have parental consent.

The change in law means that vulnerable children will be better protected from forced marriages, as it is now a criminal offence to exploit children into marriage, whether that be a forced marriage or otherwise. Forced marriages can cause significant lasting damage to a child and it is hoped that the new legislation will help to reduce forced marriages.

This is a huge step to tackle the hidden abuse and will provide a greater degree of protection to those at risk by ensuring that those who manipulate children into marrying under-age will now face the law.

It is now an offence to cause a child under the age of 18 to enter a marriage in any circumstances, without the need to prove that a form of coercion was used. This includes non-legally binding ‘ traditional’ ceremonies which would still be viewed as marriages by the parties and their families.,


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