The Ministry of Justice has pledged to raise the minimum legal age of marriage to 18 in England and Wales “as soon as legislative opportunity arises”.

At the moment, 16 and 17-year-olds can marry with parental consent, but many organisations and charities have advised that this is being exploited to force young people into child marriage.

Sajid Javid, the former chancellor, has also said he will introduce a private member’s bill this week making it illegal for under-18s to marry.

Justice Minister, Lord Wolfson, said: “The government supports raising the legal age for marriage in England and Wales to protect vulnerable children living here.

“[It is] committed to making sure children and young people are both protected and supported as they grow and develop in order to maximise their potential life chances. This includes having the opportunity to remain in education or training until they reach the age of 18.

“Child marriage and having children too early in life can deprive them of these important life chances.”

Lord Wolfson added that the Ministry of Justice would liaise with the Home Office on whether a new criminal offence was needed or whether the existing law on forced marriage could be modified.

Natasha Rattu, director of Karma Nirvana, which safeguards girls from child marriage, commented: “…while this is a huge step in the right direction, it remains imperative the government also makes child marriage a crime.

“This would ensure maximum safeguards against all forms of child marriage and sends out the strongest possible message that child marriage is not accepted or tolerated by our government.”

If you wish to discuss a family matter with B P Collins, please contact our team on 01753 279046 or email

Related Services

Related Team Specialists

Speak to an expert

Or send us an email