This week is likely to see another major change in the law relating to marriage in England and Wales with the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 likely to receive Royal assent and become law.
Many will be surprised to learn that it is currently possible to get married or enter into a civil partnership at the age of 16 if the minor has parental consent. The result was many child brides were forced into an unwanted marriage. The new law will mean any adult facilitating a marriage for anyone under the age of 18 could face up to seven years in jail as well as a fine. It will also become an offence for parents to take their children abroad to get marriage before they turn 18. The news is welcomed by campaigners who believe the existing law does not protect children from forced marriages.
This represents the second major change to law relating to marriages in England and Wales this year. On the 6 April 2022 the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into force meaning parties who wish to divorce no longer need to attribute blame. An application for divorce can be filed followed by a 20 week cooling off period before a conditional order can be applied for. It will be possible 6 weeks later to apply for a final order. The divorce process has now become much more of an administrative process and will help reduce conflict between separating couples.
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