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We will be exploring the change to legal marriage brought last month.
Adulthood is known to be entered upon turning 18. This is the age when you can drink alcohol, smoke, vote, gamble, buy fireworks, serve as a juror and be tried as an adult for breaking the law. Yet up until 27 February 2023, you could marry if you were under 18 if your parents gave you permission to do so.
The new marriage law, ‘the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022’ came into force just a few shorts weeks ago. With this came the prohibition of any person aged under 18 to marry or enter a civil partnership under any circumstance. The new law has been welcomed across the board, with individuals and practitioners alike celebrating the change.
The intention for raising the age of consent to marry to 18 was to reduce forced marriages, violence against women, and safeguard young people. Forced marriage refers to a situation where at least one spouse has not, or cannot consent to the marriage, and is being forced to marry under threat, violence or coercion. This could happen in situations where parents are forcing the marriage upon their child for reasons of religion and culture.
Over a quarter of forced marriages comprise of a child under 18. Additionally, women are usually the target spouse in forced marriage. Statistics published by Parliament revealed that in 2020, of the 603 cases of forced marriage, (79%) involved female victims and 156 (21%) involved male victims. It is clear then that girls are the marginalised group within forced marriages. This means that their freedom is most at risk, including restriction to their access to education, work, and travel, whilst also enslaving them in possibly abusive and violent marriages.
The criminalisation of marriage for those under the age of 18 means that any adult seeking to aid or influence a child under 18 to enter into a marriage will be seen to be breaking the law. Breach of the law is punishable by up to 7 years in prison. This level of punishment indicates the seriousness of forced marriage, and the importance of personal freedom.
It is hoped that this new law will protect the younger generations henceforth, and will be a sufficient safeguard in limiting forced marriages. Our family solicitors have experience in dealing with divorces and domestic violence and we would be happy to talk to you and try and help you find a better outcome for yourself. Get in touch with us today. Currently, we are offering a free initial telephone consultation with our family team for new enquires. During this call we will tell you what we can do next to get started. Give our family solicitors, a call now for a friendly chat on 020 8735 9770 or email our family law department at firstname.lastname@example.org