Loophole allowing 16 – 17 year olds to marry in UK

Lund Bennett Family Law - Cheshire and Manchester

A report from The Guardian has suggested that a legal loophole that allows 16- and 17-year-olds in England and Wales to marry with parental consent is being exploited and used to coerce young people into child marriage.

More than 20 organisations have signed a letter to the prime minister insisting current forced marriage law does not go far enough in protecting young people.

The article reports that “child marriage is often viewed as a ‘developing world issue’ and one that exclusively takes place overseas. The reality is that child marriage is an invisible but thriving issue in the UK today.”

Official figures of those marrying at 16 and 17 in England and Wales have fallen steadily over the years, with 43 teenage boys and 140 teenage girls marrying with parental consent in 2017. Scottish law allows marriage from age 16 without parental consent, but numbers are low, with just 118 16-19-year-olds marrying in 2019.

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