New Legal Age

From February 27th 2023, the legal age for marriage and civil partnerships is being increased to 18 years of age in England and Wales.

The ‘Implementation of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022’, sees an increase to the age of legal marital consent to ‘protect children from the scourge of forced marriage.’

The change means that 16-17 year olds won’t be able to get married or enter civil partnership under any circumstances, ‘including with parental or judicial consent.’

The new law also applies to cultural or religious marriages that are not registered with the local council.

For victims of forced marriage, which previously could only be classed as an offence when coercion was involved, the increase of legal age means coercion no longer needs to be proved. From the end of February, it’s now an ‘offence to cause a child under the age of 18 to enter a marriage in any circumstances.’

You can read the update and full details of provisions for this act on the gov.uk website.

This BBC article also sheds some further light on the positive impact this legal change will bring, including from the perspective of those who have previously been forced into marriage.

Amendments to LTTF Secondary

To reflect these changes, we have updated two of our Life to the Full Secondary resources for Year 9. Here’s what to look out for…

Year 9 Session 5: Marriage

There are now updates to the section about ‘committed relationships’ to include the new minimum age for marriage and civil partnerships, and information on forced marriage in this section has also been amended.  You can see notes on this added into the Session Notes and Appendix 1.

Marriage

Session 1: Marriage

In this session, pupils will discuss various types of committed relationships (e.g. civil marriage, civil partnerships, forced marriage, monogamy, etc) leading to teaching about the nature and importance of sacramental Christian marriage. Pupils will also be encouraged to consider their own future relationship plans and give thought to developing the virtues they will need.

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Year 9 Session 7: Knowing my Rights and Responsibilities

In the section detailing the Human Rights Act of 1998, number 11 speaks about the ‘Right to Marry’. When facilitating the session, you can include the new minimum age and forced marriage information. The Session Notes have been amended to include mention of the change in law regarding the legal age for marriage and civil partnerships.

Knowing My Rights and Responsibilities

Session 1: Knowing My Rights and Responsibilities

The final session of this programme explores issues around physical consent and sexual exploitation. It also explores wider human rights and responsibilities, and the tensions between human rights law and cultural/religious expectations.

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