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Family Section

Government says 'not the right time' for review of marriage law

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The Government has written to the Law Commission to say it’s not the right time for a full review of marriage law, but hasn’t ruled out further work in the future. 

In December 2015 a scoping report from the Law Commission identified issues with the way marriages were conducted in England and Wales.

It highlighted potential problems with how marriages are registered, what paperwork a couple must complete before their wedding takes place, who can conduct marriages, and where they can take place.

The Justice Minister Dominic Raab has said in a letter – whilst acknowledging marriage as “one of our most important institutions” – that any opportunities for primary legislation will be focussed on protecting the most vulnerable children and families at this time.

Law Commissioner Professor Nick Hopkins said:

“Getting married can be one of the best days in someone’s life. But our Victorian laws haven’t kept pace with the modern world.  Reform has the potential to allow all couples to marry in a way that’s meaningful to them.

“We understand parliamentary time is precious at the moment but don’t believe that the need for reform will go away.

“We hope we can continue our work in this area in the future, and welcome the Minister’s promise to keep the situation under review.”

Problems with marriage law

The main law which governs marriage is from 1836 and has failed to keep pace with modern Britain.

How and where marriages can take place is tightly regulated. At present, read more

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