The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022

In a guest post, Russell Sandberg and Kathy Griffiths look at the implications of raising the minimum age of marriage in England & Wales to eighteen. 

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 (‘2022 Act’), originally a private Member’s bill introduced by Sajid Javid and Pauline Latham, has now become law. The Act will be brought into effect by Regulations, which are pending. The headline is that the Act will amend the Marriage Act 1949 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to raise the minimum age at which people can enter into a marriage or civil partnership in England and Wales from sixteen to eighteen. This brief post will focus, however, on exploring the new criminal offence the statute creates and the three implications of the legislation that remain unresolved.

The new law

While the current law states that the age at which people can marry or enter into a civil partnership is sixteen, those aged sixteen or seventeen need to have parental or judicial consent before they can marry or enter a civil partnership. Sections 1, 3 and 4 of the 2022 Act amend the law on marriage and civil partnership to substitute ‘eighteen’ for ‘sixteen’ and to remove the provisions governing sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds. Once those sections are brought into force, a marriage or civil partnership entered into by anyone under the age of eighteen will be void. Continue reading