Northern Ireland news

Marriage age could rise to 18

The age at which people will be allowed to get married in the north could rise from 16 to 18 under a proposed change in the law
Staff reporter

THE age at which people will be allowed to get married in the north could rise from 16 to 18 under a proposed change in the law.

Under current legislation those aged 16 and 17 can wed if they have the consent of a parent or guardian.

That could now change after a public consultation showed support for the minimum age for marriage to be raised to 18.

Under the proposals equal status would be given to religious and no-religious marriage, including humanist unions.

That proposed change to the law came after 2017 legal case, brought by bride to be Laura Lacole, challenged a refusal by authorities to recognise a humanist wedding as a legal marriage without a separate ceremony taking place.

Details of the plans to reform the law were revealed by Finance Minister Conor Murphy yesterday.

His department held a public consultation last year and received 78 responses.

"Support for increasing the minimum age for marriage and civil partnership to 18 years was close to unanimous, with 97 percent of online respondents in support of the change," Mr Murphy said.

He added that a "clear majority supported the proposal to put belief marriage on an equal footing with religious marriage".

Mr Murphy has also said that currently there are "only a few dozen marriages a year" which involved aged 16 and 17-year-olds.

He added that so far, there have been no civil partnerships involving people in that age bracket.

The Sinn Féin minister also highlighted that both the Irish and British governments have raised the minimum age to 18 in those jurisdictions.

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