I am delighted that my member’s bill, the Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill, is now in the ballot. There are online articles detailing this Bill here and here. To keep up to date please follow this link.
There are only about 80 marriages each year which involve a minor (16 or 17 year old) , the vast majority being young women. I am concerned that some minors may be undergoing forced marriage.
Currently 16 and 17 year olds who wish to marry need parental consent. This Bill will require 16 and 17 year olds who wish to marry to apply to the Family Court. It also sets out how the court should consider the application.
This is an important amendment to the Marriage Act 1955 and will make sure that all minors wishing to marry are doing with the acceptance of the court and with equal consent from both parties.
I have made it very clear in the Bill’s explanatory note that forced marriage is not an arranged marriage where parents take a leading role in choosing a partner but ultimately the son or daughter has free choice.