Did you consent to your marriage in 2014? - Marriage Statistics Vs Forced Marriage

15th March 2017 Family Law

This week marked the release of National Statistics for Marriages in England and Wales in 2014.

There were 252,222 marriages in England and Wales in 2014. 247,372 of these were between opposite sex couples and 4,850 between same sex couples.

For opposite sex couples, the average age for men marrying was 37 in comparison to 34.6 years for women. For same sex couples, the average age for men marrying was slightly higher at 39.5 in comparison to 36.9 years for women.

There continues to be a noticeable decline of religious ceremonies taking place. In 1964 religious ceremonies accounted for 69% of marriages, but now in 2014 only 28% were accounted for in opposite sex couples and 0.5% between same sex couples.

Overall marriage figures for 2014 highlight a 2.7% increase from 2013's figures.

Unfortunately for some the prospect of marriage isn't always filled with the usual joy, excitement and celebration you would expect. Figures released by the Home Office on 9 March 2017 show that the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support in 1,428 cases in 2016 alone. Sadly this figure shows an approximate 20% increase from 1,220 cases in 2015.

A forced marriage is one in which one or both parties marry without his or her consent or against his or her will and includes parties who lack the capacity to consent. Not to be confused with an arranged marriage whereby both parties usually will have a right to consent. Forced marriage is a criminal offence which can result in a prison sentence of up to 7 years.

Protection for UK citizens being forced into marriage in or outside the UK is increasing. In addition to the support provided by the FMU individuals facing such a predicament can also seek assistance from a Forced Marriage Protection Order providing protection to the applicant from the prospect of a forced marriage. Emergency orders, in certain circumstances, can also be made providing immediate protection without the consent or knowledge from the person you're making the order against.

If you would like advice on any issues raised in this blog, please do not hesitate to contact the team who can assist or provide further infomation for support groups.


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David Pickering is a Partner and Head of Department located in Manchesterin our Family department

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