Changes to Minimum Marriage age England and Wales | April 2022

There has been changes to the Minimum Marriage Age in England and Wales in April 2022 from 16 to 18 years old. This outlines the changes and what this means to you. Our Family Law Solicitors can advise you with any family enquiries. Call the team Today!

Lorraine Harvey
Partner, Family Law

As from April 2022 a new law means, if you live in England or Wales, you now need to be over 18 to get married or form a civil partnership.


How can This Change in law Protect Young People?

Previously the minimum marriage age in England and Wales was 16, but you needed parental consent.

The new change in law, initially proposed by Pauline Latham, Mid Derbyshire MP, has been welcomed in Parliament as a means to putting a stop to forced marriage. When people get married very young it is not always their own choice, with the ‘parental consent’ serving as a loophole to coerce people under 18 into marriage.   

This new law is one of the biggest advancements to protect young people since the Forced Marriage Act 2014. If a child is taken abroad to get married under the new legal age, the adults who facilitate a marriage could face up to seven years in prison and a fine.  The new law doesn’t affect you if you have already married or obtained a civil partnership before April 2022. 

According to the Office of National Statistics  in 2020 there were large increases in divorce rates for couples of all ages and its hoped that this new law will help to bring that figure down.  If you do still decide to get married earlier in life, it’s always important that you think about taking sensible legal precautions.

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Do you Need a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

Many people have had a teenage romance and for some this quickly leads to getting married. While you may be certain you’ve found the one, what if things don’t work out? What then?

You might not think you would ever need this, however its important to remember that on average 1 in 5 marriages end in divorce within the first 10 years, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The most common reason for divorce in 2019 was unreasonable behaviour.  This accounted for 44% of the total number. 

You may have heard of the term ‘pre nups’.  This is an agreement that can legally determine a number of things, should you and your partner decide to separate in future.  Assets such as properties are one of the more common subjects of prenuptial agreements – something the average teen may not have. That said, prenups can include items such as what will happen to someone’s shares in a business, who is legally responsible for any debts, how you might divide any properties and even who will take ownership of a family pet in the event of a relationship break down.

It’s important know that if you go for this option you would need to sign this at least 21 days before you get married. If you’re reading this in hindsight, don’t worry! As an alternative you can arrange a post nuptial agreement, which can be signed at any time during your marriage.  Our team of Family Lawyers can help you draw up an agreement and advise what it means for your individual circumstances.


For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

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