New safeguarding law raises the minimum age for marriage to 18 years old

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 has finally come into effect and from 27th February 2023, the minimum age for marrying legally has been raised to 18 years old.

Until this change in the law, it was legal for children aged 16 and 17 years old to legally marry with the consent of their parents. This could lead to coercion by parents in encouraging young people to commit to a marriage which was not in their best interests.

Marriage at such a young age not only limits opportunities for education, employment, and personal independence, it can also have a more sinister impact in terms of a child being subject to lifelong physical and emotional domestic abuse.

The new law helps to safeguard children’s rights, by preventing parents from forcing or influencing a child into an unwanted and unsuitable marriage. The legislation covers religious and cultural marriages, along with those registered with the local authority, making it an offence for any adult to aid, abet or encourage anyone under 18 years old to enter into any form of marriage. Anyone breaking this new law could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

Children’s charities and MPs across the political spectrum have hailed the new law as a major step forward in helping to protect the rights of vulnerable children and the problem of forced marriage.

Responsive site designed and developed by