Who can you not marry in the UK?

In this blog we will answer the question, Who can you not marry in the UK?

We will also briefly discuss the laws realted to same sex marriages, the process of getting married and a civil union. 

Who can you not marry in the UK?

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Counseling is Key to a Healthy Marriage

According to Marriage laws in the UK, the people you cannot marry includes the following:

  • Anyone below age 16
  • People who are already married
  • People incapable of giving consent
  • People who are forced into marriage
  • Family members such as blood relatives, adopted children, and step relatives.

Anyone below the age of 16

You cannot marry people who are below the age of 16.

Young people aged between 16 and 18 can get married however they need parental consent from both parties to get married in England and Wales. 

People who are already married

You cannot legally get married to someone who is already married and is not divorced or widowed. 

If you want to marry someone who has been married before, they either have to be legally divorced or their partner’s dead. 

People who are incapable of understanding the concept of marriage

It is illegal to marry someone who does not have the ability to understand the concept of marriage and is unable to give consent to marriage. 

This refers to individuals who do not have the mental capacity or intellectual ability to be able to understand the legalities of marriage.

Even if the person’s guardian gives consent, there will be steps taken to ensure that they understand the concept of marriage before the process of marriage and union gets through. 

People who are being forced 

Forced marriages where an individual, irrespective of age, is pressured into marrying someone against their will is illegal and it is also a criminal offence in the UK. 

Family

According to Jessica Lindsey for Metro, you are not allowed to marry the following:

  • Mother
  • Father
  • Son including your step or adopted son
  • Daughter including your step or adopted daughter
  • Brother, including half-siblings.
  • Sister, including half-siblings.
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Uncles or aunties, including a half-uncle or half-aunt.
  • Nieces or nephews, including your half niece or nephews.

Based on this list, you are not legally allowed to marry family members with whom you have 25 percent of shared DN or someone who is related to you by the 4th Degree or less. 

According to the  Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986, a citizen of the UK is prohibited from marrying the following persons:

Blood relatives

This includes marriages between siblings and between a parent and child. The law also prohibits the union between half siblings as well as between parent and child. 

Marriages between grand parent- grand child is also prohibited in the UK as well as marriages between Uncles/Aunts- Niece/Nephews. 

Adopted children

Marriage between children who have been adopted by another family cannot legally marry their own biological parents, siblings, and grandparents- even if they are unaware of their genetic relationships; upon finding out, the marriage will be considered null or void. 

Adopted children and adoptive parents are also prohibited from getting married meaning that if the child has at anypoint lived with the parent or been considered their child, they will not be permitted to marry. 

Step relatives

Step relatives are generally not permitted to marry in most cases, step siblings who have lived together at any point of their young lives before the age of 18 and have shared a family relationship are not permitted to marry by law. 

However, they will be permitted to have a civil union if:

  • Both parties are 21 or above the age of 21
  • They have not shared any sibling relationship at any point
  • They younger has not been treated as the child of the older person’s family
  • They have not lived together at any point in time before the age of 18 of the younger individual. 

These marriages may usually only take place during a civil ceremony, under licence and often require authorisation by the court of law to be recognised as a union. It is unlikely that the church will solemnise the union.

Can Same sex couples get married in the UK?

Yes, same-sex couples can legally marry in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as those couples who have married under foreign law are also recognised as being married in the UK.

Earlier to 2014, same sex marriage was not leagalise and only civil partnerships were allowed to be formed for same sex couples. 

However, today, If a same-sex couple have previously formed a civil partnership (ie before same-sex marriage was legalised in 2014), in England, Wales or Scotland they can convert their civil partnership into a recognised marriage. 

It has to be mentioned that a transgender person can also legally  marry someone of the opposite gender or same gender.

What is the process of getting married in the uk?

In the UK, only opposite-sex couples can get married in a religious ceremony where as same sex couples can get married in a civil ceremony only. 

However, if the religipus community has agreed to carry out same sex marriages, they can marry in a religos ceremony as well. 

The process of marriages in the UK is as follows:

Civil marriages

Couples that are getting married in a civil marriage ceremony must go to the local registry office to notify their union before it can proceed. 

The couple must make an appointment with the registry for the notice. 

The registry should be notified and be given at least 28 days’ notice with the accurate details of where you intend to get married, whom you intend to marry, and when. 

The notice should also include details related to  Proof of name, age, nationality and address, proof of divorce (e.g. decree absolute) or death certificate is also needed.

This notice of intention to marry will be publicly displayed- usually in the paper. This is done to allow for any objections for anyone with strong grounds. 

After 28 days with no objections, the marriage ceremony can take place in the local registry office or local authority approved premises by someone who is legally authorised to register marriages.

The marriages in a civil union will not include any religious references and the partners will need to sign the marriage schedule or marriage document.

This document needs to be witnessed by two witnesses over the age of 16 who will also sign the document and the document will then be sent to your local registry office and added to the marriage register. 

You will then receive your marriage certificate. 

Religious marriages

People who get married in religious marriages are often heterosexual couples and they ususally are married in the Church of England or Church of Wales.

The marriage, if they are chirstians of the Church of England or Church of Wales, is usually registered at the same time as performing the religious ceremony and notice to the registry office is not needed.

Instead of notifying the local marriage registry, notices of the proposed marriage are typically read out in the parish church of each of the individual partners as well as in the church where the marriage will take place.

For all other religious marriages, you need to give 28 days notice of the marriage to the registry officer.

The notice should also include details related to  Proof of name, age, nationality and address, proof of divorce (e.g. decree absolute) or death certificate is also needed.

This notice of intention to marry will be publicly displayed- usually in the paper. This is done to allow for any objections for anyone with strong grounds. 

After 28 days with no objections, the marriage ceremony can take place in the local registry office or local authority approved premises by someone who is legally authorised to register marriages.

A religious wedding can take place at a church, chapel or other registered building and the partners will need to sign the marriage schedule or marriage document.

This document needs to be witnessed by two witnesses over the age of 16 who will also sign the document and the document will then be sent to your local registry office and added to the marriage register. 

You will then receive your marriage certificate. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have answered the question, Who can you not marry in the UK?

We also briefly discussed the laws realted to same sex marriages, the process of getting married and a civil union. 

FAQ related to who can you not marry in the UK

Can you marry your sister in law in the UK?

No, it is unlikely that you can marry your sister in law in the UK. Throughout the United Kingdom the law forbids certain relatives-in-law from getting married. 

Can you marry your half-sister in the UK?

No, you cannot marry your half sister in the UK. 

Is it legal to marry step siblings in the UK?

Step relatives are generally not permitted to marry in most cases, step siblings who have lived together at any point of their young lives before the age of 18 and have shared a family relationship are not permitted to marry by law. 

However, they will be permitted to have a civil union if:

  • Both parties are 21 or above the age of 21
  • They have not shared any sibling relationship at any point
  • They younger has not been treated as the child of the older person’s family
  • They have not lived together at any point in time before the age of 18 of the younger individual. 

Can you marry your brother in the UK?

No, the law prevents marriages between siblings and between a parent and child. The law also prohibits the union between half siblings as well as between parent and child. 

Can gay men marry UK?

Yes, as of 2014 same-sex couples can legally marry in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as those same sex couples who have married under foreign law are also recognised as being married in the UK.

References

Lindsey.J. Can you marry your cousin in the UK? Which family members is it illegal to marry? Metro. Retrieved on  6th April 2022. https://metro.co.uk/2018/08/01/can-marry-cousin-uk-family-members-illegal-marry-7785320/#:~:text=Here%20in%20 Britain%20 it’s%20 actually,haven’t%20come%20 under%20 fire.

Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986. Legislation.UK. Retrieved on  6th April 2022. . https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/16

The law on getting married. My Lawyer. Retrieved on  6th April 2022. https://www.mylawyer.co.uk/the-law-on-getting-married-a-A76051D76350/#link7

Getting married. Rocket Lawyer. Retrieved on 6th April 2022. https://www.rocketlawyer.com/gb/en/quick-guides/getting-married#:~:text=Who%20can’t%20get%20 married,not%20be%20allowed%20to%20marry.

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