Currently in the UK people can get married at age 16 or 17 with parental consent. This is set to change in February 2023 when the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 will be implemented. The Act provides ‘that a person commits an offence under the law of England and Wales if he or she carries out any conduct for the purpose of causing a child to enter into a marriage before the child’s eighteenth birthday.’ This Act has reportedly come about due to concerns about children being coerced and forced into marriage before they are 18.
If you are being forced into a marriage at any age, or you are concerned that someone you know is being forced into a marriage, you may be able to apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order which would prevent specific conduct from taking place.
The Act will raise the age of marriage and civil partnership to 18 in England and Wales to protect children from the scourge of forced marriage.
This means that 16 to 17-year-olds will no longer be able to marry or enter a civil partnership under any circumstances, including with parental or judicial consent from 26 February 2023. It will not be possible for anyone under 18 to marry or enter a civil partnership after this date.
Currently forced marriage is only an offence if the person uses a type of coercion, for example threats, to cause someone to marry, or if the person lacks capacity to consent to marry under the Mental Capacity Act.