We hope you’re ready, Gretna Green!

Gretna Green

On February 27th, the age of marriage (without parental consent) will increase from 16 to 18 in England and Wales. Before this date, if you wanted to get married at 16, and your parents agreed, you could. After February 27th, you can’t. If you marry abroad at age 16 or 17, that marriage won’t be considered legal. The legal age of marriage for citizens in England Wales will be 18; in Scotland it will remain at 16.

On paper this sounds like a pretty big deal… Gretna Green, we hope you’re prepared! However, at AWB Charlesworth, we don’t think this will have a great impact and the reason is as follows:

The average age of marrying couples in the UK has been increasing since the 1970s. Women now marry at 31.5 years on average, men at 33.4 years. And the number of people who are living with partners and who have never married has nearly quadrupled between 2008 and 2018. Neither of these trends see any signs of slowing, as the stigma of living together has vanished and legal protection for co-habiting couples increases.

The February change therefore will have very little impact on most people. In ten years’ time, at a village pub quiz, you’ll be scratching your head trying to remember when the law changed.

Nevertheless, as with all personal matters, any change of circumstance such as moving in with your partner, or entering into marriage or a civil partnership will benefit from expert legal advice at the outset. For expert legal advice on all aspects of family law including cohabitation agreements, pre-nups, post-nups, and more, contact Amanda De Winter on 01756 692871.

23 January 2023