What has changed?
As of yesterday, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act changed the law so that children under 18 cannot legally marry in England and Wales, even with parental consent.
What are the consequences of breaking the law?
It is now a criminal offence to cause a child to marry (whether through force or otherwise) with the possibility of imprisonment for up to 7 years.
Why has this change come into place?
The change came into place to enhance protection for vulnerable children.
Child marriage is often associated with domestic abuse towards girls, leaving education early, limited career opportunities, and serious physical and mental health problems. The change honours the government’s commitment to the pledge made to the United Nations to end child marriage by 2030.
Further information on the destructive effect of forced child marriage can be found here.
Do the rules also apply to religious and cultural marriage that are not legally recognised?
The protection also extends to non-legal marriages ceremonies which would culturally or religiously be recognised by the families as a marriage such as Nikkah’s.
Do the changes apply to the rest of the UK?
The Act does not change the age of marriage in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Find out more
For more information, click here to see the government’s press release: Legal age of marriage in England and Wales rises to 18 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Click here for related press coverage: Campaigners hail law raising age of marriage to 18 in England and Wales | Child marriage | The Guardian
Click here to see Payzee Mahmod’s video on surviving Child Marriage: (1) I Survived Child Marriage, Now I’m Changing the Law | Payzee Mahmod | Justice & Me – YouTube