Can we get married?

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

Before you propose you should be aware of the legal restrictions on marriage

In England and Wales you cannot get married if:

  • either of you is under 16
  • either of you is under 18 and does not have parental consent
  • either of you is already married
  • a previous wife or husband of either of you has been missing for less than seven years or you do not have a certificate of divorce based on presumption of death
  • you are closely related ‐‐ see below for a list of who you can/cannot marry.

Blood relatives

A man may not marry his: A woman may not marry her:
mother father
sister brother
daughter son
father’s mother father’s father
mother’s mother mother’s father
son’s daughter son’s son
daughter’s daughter daughter’s son
father’s sister father’s brother
mother’s sister mother’s brother
brother’s daughter brother’s son
sister’s daughter sister’s son

Step relatives

A man may not marry a:  A woman may not marry a:
daughter of a former wife son of a former husband
former wife of his father former husband of her mother
former wife of his father’s father former husband of her father’s mother
former wife of his mother’s father former husband of her mother’s mother
daughter of a son of a former wife son of  a daughter of a former husband
daughter of a daughter of a former wife

Relatives in law

A man may not marry: A woman may not marry:
The mother of a former wife The father of a former husband
The former wife of a son The former husband of a daughter

Step! in the name of love …

Under the Marriage Act of 1986, certain relatives are now allowed to marry, but there are strict requirements and these marriages may usually only take place during a civil ceremony, under license.

Provided they are aged 21 years or older, step‐relatives may marry. However, the younger member of the couple must, at no time before the age of 18, have lived under the same roof as the older person. Neither must they have been treated as a child of the older person’s family.

Certain relatives‐in‐law may marry if they are both at least 21 and the family members involved in creating the in‐law relationship are both dead.

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