Legal age of marriage

Posted on: March 3rd, 2023

As of the 27th February 2023, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 which received Royal Assent in April of last year, is now in full force and effect in England and Wales.

The act introduces new legislation whereby it is now a criminal offence to exploit vulnerable children by arranging for them to marry, whether it is forced or not. The act has removed the necessity for coercion or threats needing to be made towards the person for any offence to be committed. Under the new act, any person found guilty of causing a child to marry, will now face a sentence of up to 7 years in prison. This includes all types of ceremony, including non-legally binding ‘traditional’ ceremonies, which may be still recognised as marriage amongst family and friends.

The act also has introduced an increase in the minimum age for marriage and civil partnership. Previously those aged 16-17 were able to marry with either parental or judicial consent. It is now no longer possible for anyone under the age of 18 to either marry or enter a civil partnership. The age of 18 is already widely considered as the age in which a person becomes an adult and gains their full rights as a citizen.

The introduction of this new legislation will provide greater protection for vulnerable young people, in particular to women and girls who are being forced into marriage. The act forms part of the governments efforts to tackle violence against young women and is a step towards the pledge made by the United Nations to end child marriage by 2030.

For any issues regarding divorce or marriage please contact our team today to arrange a free 30-minute consultation on 01642 777680 or email

James Jeffels

Blog prepared by James Jeffels, paralegal

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