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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Legal age for marriage and civil partnerships raised to 18

Legal age for marriage and civil partnerships raised to 18


The rules will also apply to unofficial cultural or religious marriages

MPs have voted in parliament to pass a bill which will raise the legal age a person can marry or enter into a civil partnership in England and Wales to 18.

Currently, the law permits couples to marry at 16 or 17, with parental consent. However, under the new law, adults who facilitate the marriage of a child under the age of 18, or take children abroad to marry, could be imprisoned for up to seven years. The children involved will not face any legal consequences. The law will also apply to unofficial cultural or religious marriages.

The bill was introduced to parliament by Conservative MP Pauline Latham. She told the BBC: “Britain has signed two international treaties and agrees to abode by the United Nations sustainable development goals which says nobody should be getting married under the age of 18 anywhere in the world.

“We’ve signed up to that, but we allow it to happen, so it’s an anomaly that’s been happening for far too long and we need to change it”.