Law Notes

What Is The Age of Marriage According To English Law

If either party to the marriage is over the age Of 16 but under the age of 18. certain persons are normally required to give their express consent to the marriage or are given a power to dissent from it. The purpose of this provision is, of course, to prevent minors’ contracting unwise marriages. Doubtless in 1753 Parliament was primarily concerned to see that property did not get into the hands of undesirable suitors; today its object is to cut down the number of potentially unstable unions.’ Should the marriage be solemnized without consent, the damage will have been done; consequently lack of consent will normally not make the marriage void. 2 The law relating to those whose consent is required was extensively changed by the Children Act 1989. Normally it will be that of each parent with parental responsibility and each guardian (if any).

Hence an unmarried father cannot withhold consent unless he has entered into a parental responsibility agreement or obtained a parental responsibility order. But if a residence order is in force with respect to the child, the consent required is that of the person Or persons with whom the child is living or is to live under the order and not that of parents Or guardians. g If a Care Order is in force, the local authority designated in the order must consent in addition to parents and guardians. It should be noted that no consent is required at all if the minor is a widow or widower. It will also be seen from what follows that, if it is impossible to obtain the necessary consent or, more particularly, if the consent is withheld, the consent of the court may be obtained instead. The ‘court’ for this purpose is the High Court, a county court or a magistrates’ court sitting as a ‘family proceedings court.

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