Marriage Age Increase

By Jenna Brewer

Senior Associate

The anomaly in which a child could legally be married but could not vote, buy alcohol or drive a car was rectified in The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 which came into force on the 27 February 2023.  This means that the minimum age for marriage and civil partnerships has risen from 16 years old to 18 years old.  The idea behind the raising of age is to help prevent forced child marriages, as prior to this Act there was no minimum age for religious or ceremonial marriages.

The Act makes it an offence for adults to facilitate marriage for a child in a registered or unregistered marriage and not only applies to arrangements in England and Wales, but also if a child is taken out of the country with the intention of them marrying underage.  If a child does marry in breach of this Act, it is not the child who would face penalties but the adult involved, who could face a seven year jail sentence or a fine.  Any marriage of child under the age of 18 in England and Wales now will automatically be void.

The Act is not retrospective so marriages carried out prior to the act coming into force are not automatically invalid.

The hope is that this Act will help protect young people who may have been vulnerable and at risk of being pressurised into marriage.

For more information on matrimonial matters or to find out how we can help you, please contact our Family team on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.