Bill raising minimum age of marriage gets third reading

By 14 April 2022News

A bill raising the minimum age for marriage to 18 received an unopposed third reading in the House of Commons in late February.

Under current legislation, 16- and 17-year-olds can marry in England and Wales with the consent of their parents or guardian, but the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill would remove this provision if it reaches the statute books. Following an amendment, it would also prevent under-18s from travelling to Scotland or Northern Ireland to marry.

The latter prohibition will also apply in reverse and extend to marriages conducted in other countries too. An official note on the draft legislation explains:

“The anticipated effect of this change on the common law will also mean that any marriages which take place overseas, or in Scotland or Northern Ireland, involving under 18s where one of the parties is domiciled [officially resident] in England and Wales, will not be legally recognised in England and Wales. This change to recognition will also apply to civil partnerships.”

The third reading is the final stage in the passage of draft legislation through the House of Commons. It follows the first reading, the second reading, the committee stage, and the report stage. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill will now proceed to the House of Lords for further consideration.

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