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German law would ban marriage under 18

A proposed law currently under consideration by the German government would ban marriage under the age of 18.

The move follows concern about marriage involving teenagers in the country’s large migrant communities. As many as 1,475 foreign-born teenagers living in Germany are legally married, the majority girls. Of these, 361 are under the age of 14 – all married in Islamic ceremonies in other countries.

Campaigners believe the real numbers are likely to be higher as many families conceal underage marriage from the authorities.

Currently German courts can decide to allow underage spouses married abroad to remain with their husbands or wives. They also have the authority to grant discretionary marriage licences to prospective spouses aged 16 or 17, but these powers would end under the planned legislation. The minimum age for marriage would become 18 across all religions. Participants in illegal marriages would be fined and marriages conducted abroad would only be recognised if both spouses were aged 18 or over at the time.

MP Stephan Harbarth told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper.

“We want to ensure that no more religious marriage ceremonies are conducted for those aged under 18.”

A draft bill is expected later this year. Both parties in the ruling coalition government have expressed support.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    So if Jock and Catriona, British citizens, domiciled in Scotland, sixteen years old, marry in Scotland and then move to Germany and settle there will they be regarded as married there?
    Now I come to think of it: suppose our pair of Scottish lovebirds honeymoon in Germany and consummate their marriage, as newly-weds do, bless them; and then settle in England where they acquire a domicile but the marriage fails. Can Jock (or Catriona) say that Catriona (or Jock) has committed adultery by having intercourse with a person to whom she (or he) is not married, namely himself (or herself?) After all, Soames Forsyte got a divorce on the strength of a visit to his wife’s bedroom!
    You can tell it’s Friday evening, can’t you?

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