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The minimum age of marriage & civil partnership now 18

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 came into force on 27/02/23.

Irrespective of obtaining parental consent, individuals under 18 can no longer marry or enter a civil partnership in England and Wales.

As a direct result, a new criminal offence, attracting a maximum sentence of 7 years custody, now exists to punish offenders convicted of arranging both under-age marriages and civil partnerships.

The aim of the new legislation is to protect vulnerable children from coercion and abuse by tackling forced marriages and those who arrange them.

Previously, forced marriage was only a criminal offence if there was evidence of coercion.

Proof of coercion is no longer required. It is now a criminal offence to cause a child under the age of 18, to enter a marriage or civil partnership, including non-legally binding ‘traditional ceremonies’.

Child marriage destroys lives, but the new legislation will provide robust measures designed to protect vulnerable children.

For further information:

Legal age of marriage in England and Wales rises to 18 – GOV.UK (

Campaigners hail law raising age of marriage to 18 in England and Wales | Child marriage | The Guardian

If you have been arrested or charged on suspicion of arranging an under-age marriage or civil partnership and require legal advice and assistance, you might wish to speak to one of our lawyers in confidence. Please contact the Public Defender Service at any one of our four offices. We are available 24hours a day, 365 days of the year.

Cheltenham: 01242 548270

Darlington: 01352 289480

Pontypridd: 01443 629724

Swansea: 01792 633 280