Raising marriage age to 18 in North goes to public consultation

The public are also being asked about putting belief marriages, overseen by humanists, on an equal legal footing to religious marriage
Raising marriage age to 18 in North goes to public consultation

By Rebecca Black, PA

A public consultation has been launched in Northern Ireland on raising the age at which people can marry to 18.

There are fewer than 100 marriages in the North each year where at least one participant is aged under 18.

Sixteen to 17-year-olds can marry with parental consent. The law is the same in England, Scotland and Wales. In the Republic, you must be 18 to marry.

In 2019, there were 80 marriages in Northern Ireland where one or both involved were under 18, up from 60 in 2018, and there were 61 in 2017, 43 in 2016 and 79 in 2015.

Conservative MP Pauline Latham has proposed a private members’ bill to raise the minimum age in England and Wales to 18. It is set to receive its second reading on Friday (November 19th).

There have been recent calls from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to raise the age to 18 in jurisdictions that allow child marriage.

The public in Northern Ireland is also being asked for their view on whether belief marriages, overseen by humanist celebrants, should be on an equal legal footing with religious marriage.

Belief marriages are currently subject to temporary arrangements.

There have been 702 belief marriages conducted since April 2020.

The consultation on the marriage law will run until February 18, 2022.

Responses can be made via www.finance-ni.gov.uk/consultations.

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