New Marriage Laws

| General

New Marriage Laws

On 28th April 2022, some of the most important changes to the marriage laws in the jurisdiction of England and Wales were enacted by the UK Parliament. The main headline figure is the decision to raise the age at which persons are legally entitled to get married to another person. The new legal requirements raise this age from sixteen years (on the condition of parental consent) and a person now has to have attained the age of eighteen. This brings the laws of marriage into line with other activities which cannot legally be carried out below the age of eighteen such as:

Applying to join the electoral roll and deciding whether to vote in a respective election

  • joining the Armed Forces
  • purchasing cigarettes and
  • purchasing alcohol

So Why Is The UK Parliament Raising the Age?

Why has the UK Government increased the age where a person is legally entitled to marry traces its origins back to the campaign by the Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham who tirelessly campaigned for the reforms to marriage laws for around three years. Before Mrs. Latham pursued the campaign it was a cause seemingly close to the heart of the current Health Secretary Sajid Javid. Mr. Javid seemingly abandoned the legislation when he found himself suddenly promoted to the office of Health Secretary following the debacle and eventual resignation of the previous incumbent Matthew Hancock from the position. The rules and customs of the Parliamentary system prevail and those Members of Parliament who hold Government positions are not entitled to campaign on such issues as the promotion means that such persons no longer hold the title of a backbencher.

Mrs Latham explained why the new reforms are being introduced to the laws surrounding marriage. She observed that the option for parents to provide their express approval for the marriage of their sixteen and seventeen-year-old children is vulnerable to abuse. She also commented on the societal shift which has taken place over a hundred years of marriage law from a foundation based upon the love of two people and a desire to protect property. Mrs. Latham believes the scale has tipped significantly and is not being taken advantage of. Further, Mrs. Latham said the new laws demonstrated leadership on the part of the United Kingdom on the world and geopolitical stage whereby the country is committed to putting an end to marriages involving children across the globe.

Have There Been Any More Recent Developments In Family Law?

The above change to the age when a person is legally entitled to marriage is the main headline of the recent events. However, from the beginning of the tax year on 6th April 2022 the UK Government brought into force divorces which did not assign any form of culpability. This was heralded into the England and Wales jurisdiction by way of the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. The only arguable reason for divorce under the new piece of law is to submit evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

What Specifically Does The Act Apply To?

The UK Parliament has introduced this legislation to concentrate primarily on situations where persons have entered into civil partnerships, marriages and annulments.

What Else Has Changed?

Six key terms in divorce law have been changed forever. The term Decree Absolute is to be known henceforth as a Final Order. The Decree Nisi will be named a ‘Conditional Order’ and a divorce petition will be an Application. Lawyers will need to get to grips with the new reforms

The Legists Content Team

ASSESSING FIRMS

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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES

[1] BBC New/Class Legal – New law raises minimum marriage age to 18 in England and Wales – 28th April 2022 - New law raises minimum marriage age to 18 in England… | Class Legal

[2] Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020

[3] Summers, Hannah – Pauline Latham MP picks up bill to end child marriage in England and Wales – Guardian -30 June 2021 - Pauline Latham MP picks up bill to end child marriage in England and Wales | Child marriage | The Guardian

[4] Summers, Hannah – Back bill to ban marriage fir under-18s in England and Wales, MP urged – Guardian - 6 October 2020 - Back bill to ban marriage for under-18s in England and Wales, MPs urged | Global development | The Guardian

[5] Office for National Statistics – Marriages in England and Wales: 2017 - Marriages in England and Wales - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

[6] Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2022

[7] Weightmans – Changes in divorce and civil partnership legislation - Changes in divorce and civil partnership legislation | Weightmans

[8] Rule 7.7.4 – Family Procedure Rules

[9] Rule 7.9.6 – Family Procedure Rules

[10] Rule 6.6A - Family Procedure Rules

[11] Rule 7.9 - Family Procedure Rules

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