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New law bans child marriage

New rules have been put in place to prevent underage marriage in the UK. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 bans underage marriage in the UK.

The new Act is effective in England and Wales and means that 16- and 17-year-olds will no longer be allowed to marry or enter a civil partnership, even if they have parental consent.

The change in the law applies to all religious and civil marriages, including those which are conducted in places of worship that are not ‘legally binding’.

It is now a criminal offence to exploit vulnerable children by arranging for them to marry, under any circumstances whether or not force is used. This is now punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Commenting upon the new law, the Minister for Safeguarding, Sarah Dines MP, said: “Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights which denies vulnerable children the freedom to learn, grow and thrive. Like all other forms of abuse, I’m committed to stamping out this exploitative practice.

“In addition to this welcome new legislation, we are also continuing to provide training and guidance to equip the police, social workers and other frontline professionals to support and safeguard victims.”

The ban on under 18s marrying has led to some commentators predicting that the number of young people cohabiting may rise as a result.

However, it is important to note that in such situations, there are fewer legal protections in the event that the relationship comes to an end.

To ensure the financial well-being of all parties involved in these types of unions, there are steps that cohabiting couples can take to protect their finances and assets, such as creating a cohabitation agreement.

To find out how a cohabitation agreement can protect you in the event that your relationship breaks down, please get in touch with Stuart Daniel here at Mander Hadley.

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