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19 NOV 2013

MARRIAGE: A Local Authority v X and Another [2013] EWHC 3274 (Fam)

(Family Division, Holman J, 22 October 2013)

When she was 14 years old the girl, born in England, travelled with her father and brother to Pakistan where she underwent a marriage ceremony to a 24-year-old man. The girl became pregnant and the baby was born in England where the local authority initiated care proceedings in respect of both the girl and the baby.

During the proceedings, the local authority, supported by the guardian, sought a declaration of non-recognition of the marriage. The court, finding that the girl was domiciled in England at the time of the marriage and, therefore, that the Marriage Act 1949 applied, held that the marriage was void due to the girl being under 16 at the time.

The judge held that should the girl choose to issue a petition the court would be able to pronounce a decree of nullity but having regard to s 58(5) of the Family Law Act 1986 the court could not declare a marriage void at its inception. The local authority application was refused.