England, Wales raise legal marriage age to 18

A new law has come into effect in England and Wales, raising the legal age of marriage to 18.

Previously, couples were able to tie the knot at 16 or 17 years old, but that could have been done only with parental consent.

The UK government said on its website that the change was meant to protect children from the scourge of forced marriages. It said the new law “will crack down on forced marriages, which can cause lasting damage on a child.”

The laws on marriage vary across the United Kingdom.

In Scotland, young people can still get married aged 16.

In Northern Ireland, the legal age remains 18. However, couples could get married at 16 or 17 years, but with parental consent.

The age of marriage consent is 18 year in European Union countries. But there are exceptions, including if the girl is pregnant.

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