Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill advances to third reading

Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill advances to third reading

The Public Bill Committee has reportedly completed work related to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill and has confirmed the Bill is without amendments to the House of Commons.

The Bill, which proposes to increase the minimum age for marriage and civil partnership from 16 to 18, is now due to have its report stage and third reading on 25th February 2022.

Currently children aged 16 and 17 can marry with the consent of their parents but the new bill proposes to make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to marry, signalling an end to what has been described as “child abuse” by Sajid Javid, initial sponsor of the Bill. 

The minimum age of 16 was introduced in 1929 when living together or pregnancy outside of marriage was socially unacceptable but this is now an outdated concept and in need of revision.

It is reported that since 2016 there have been 3,354 marriages involving 16 and 17 year olds although these figures do not include non-registered or cultural marriages or marriages abroad. The Home Office’s forced marriage unit processed 574 cases involving children aged 17 and under in 2020. However, it is rare for forced marriages in children to be reported to the authorities because the onus is on the child to protest and inform authorities if they feel the marriage is forced.

The Bill may be accessed here.

Today's Family Lawyer

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