What is the Legal Age for Marriage in Scotland?
Currently, young people in Scotland can only get married at the age of 16 if they provide parental consent. New legislation which came into force in England and Wales earlier this year requires young people to be at least 18 years old before they can legally marry, regardless of parental consent. If Scotland were to follow, it would bring them in line with other European countries, such as Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, where the legal age for marriage is already set at 18.
Why is this change necessary?
The change to the law south of the border comes after extensive consultation with child welfare groups who have long advocated for this change. Together they want to ensure that young people have the opportunity to make informed decisions about their future and that they are not pressured into marriage before they are ready. Studies have shown that child marriage can have a devastating impact on young people, particularly girls, including increased risk of domestic violence, poverty, and poor health outcomes.
In addition to protecting young people, the new legislation will also help to promote gender equality. Girls are disproportionately affected by child marriage, and raising the legal age for marriage will help to ensure that girls have the same opportunities as boys to pursue education, careers, and other life goals.
The decision to raise the legal age for marriage to 18 in England and Wales can be seen as a positive step towards protecting young people from the harms of child marriage. By ensuring that young people are mature enough to make such a significant commitment, taking an important step towards promoting gender equality and protecting the rights of its most vulnerable citizens.
Is the legal age for marriage in Scotland expected to change in the future? Well, the age has remained the same for a number of years but expect possible reforms to continue.