A MAJOR change to the legal age of marriage is being made today which is set to affect more than a million people.

Today Brits can only marry if they are over the age of 18.

It means the legal age has increased by two years – with 16-year-olds previously having been able to tie the knot.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 now stipulates that children aged 16 and 17 will no longer be allowed to marry or enter a civil partnership, even if they have parental consent.

There are about 1.5million 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK.

Under the law, those found guilty of causing the marriage of anyone younger than 18 will face a potential prison sentence of up to seven years.


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The legislation will not affect Scotland or Northern Ireland because marriage is a devolved matter.

The reform was introduced through a private member's bill in parliament that was sponsored by Pauline Latham, Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire. 

The change is being seen as a ‘huge victory for abuse survivors’.

It is targeted at those who exploit vulnerable children by arranging for them to marry young, and will apply under any circumstances, whether or not force was used.

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