The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and will come into force on 27 February 2023. It will raise the age of marriage from of 16 to 18.
Currently a child can marry at the age of 16 and 17 with their parents’ consent. This provision will be removed when the act comes into force.
The main thrust of the act is to try to protect children who are at risk of being forced into marriage. A forced marriage is where one or both parties do not consent to the marriage (or cannot consent due to lack of capacity) and pressure or abuse is used. Forcing someone to marry against their will is a criminal offence.
The main proponent of this bill, Conservative MP Sajid Javid, said in an interview with the BBC that most marriages under the age of 18 were “coerced or forced for cultural and religious reasons”.
Partner Teena Dhanota- Jones says: “I certainly hope there will not be a surge of vulnerable children marrying before this act comes into force. This new act and the criminal offence of a forced marriage will no doubt reduce the number of children being subjected to this ordeal.”