England and Wales raise minimum age for marriage to 18

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

Previously, it was possible to get married at age 16 or 17 with parental consent, and the government says the change “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; while in Northern Ireland the legal age remains 18 but couples could get married at 16 or 17 with parental consent. 

So what is the situation like across the rest of Europe? 

Nominally, the age of marriage consent is 18 in European Union countries, however there are many exceptions to that rule, depending on a number of factors, including whether the girl is pregnant, or if there is parental consent or if authorities decide the individuals are mature enough to get married younger than 18.

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