Raising the age of marriage to 18 in the North is the subject of a public consultation
By Rebecca Black, Pennsylvania
A public consultation has been launched in Northern Ireland on raising the legal age for marriage to 18 years.
There are less than 100 weddings in the North each year where at least one participant is under the age of 18.
Young people between the ages of 16 and 17 can get married with the consent of their parents. The law is the same in England, Scotland and Wales. In the Republic, you have to be 18 to get married.
In 2019, there were 80 marriages in Northern Ireland where one or both were under the age of 18, up from 60 in 2018, and there were 61 in 2017, 43 in 2016 and 79 in 2015 .
Conservative MP Pauline Latham has proposed a private member’s bill to raise the minimum age in England and Wales to 18. It should go to second reading on Friday, November 19.
There have been recent calls from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to raise the age to 18 in jurisdictions that allow child marriage.
The public in Northern Ireland is also being invited to give their opinion on whether creed marriages, overseen by humanist celebrants, should be on an equal footing with religious marriage.
Belief marriages are currently subject to temporary arrangements.
There have been 702 religious marriages celebrated since April 2020.
The consultation on the marriage law will run until February 18, 2022.
Responses can be made via www.finance-ni.gov.uk/consultations.