Consultation launched on changes to Marriage Law

Date published: 15 November 2021

The Department of Finance has launched a public consultation on changing two aspects of local Marriage Law.

have your say - consultation on changes to local marriage laws

The consultation is seeking feedback on changing marriage laws to include belief marriage.  This means belief marriages, such as those overseen by humanist celebrants, and which are currently subject to temporary arrangements, would have an equal legal footing with religious marriage. 

The Department is also asking the public for their views on raising the minimum age at which people can legally marry or enter into a civil partnership.  Views are sought on raising the current minimum age from 16, with parental consent, to 18. There have been recent calls from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to raise the age to 18 in jurisdictions which currently allow child marriage.

The consultation will run until 18 February 2022. If you would like to participate and help shape future government policy in this area, visit for more information.

Notes to editors: 

1.  The number of marriages where one of both participants have been aged under 18 are detailed below:

2015       79

2016       43

2017       61

2018       60

2019       80

2.  In total, 702 belief marriages have been conducted since April 2020.

3. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance Press Office on Tel: 028 9081 6724 or email

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5.  The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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