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4.8.3 Marriage and Civil Partnerships

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to 16 and 17 year olds who are Looked After and who wish to marry or enter into a civil partnership.

AMENDMENT

In May 2018 this chapter was substantially revised and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Necessary Consents 
  2. Care Order
  3. No Care Order 


1. Necessary Consents

A marriage or civil partnership between two persons when either or both are under 16 is void.

For a young person who is 16 or 17 to marry or enter into a civil partnership, the written consent of parents is required. If the young person is the subject of a Care Order, the consent of the local authority is required in addition to that of the parents.

Where the necessary consents are not forthcoming, an application can be made to the Court for consent in substitution for parental consent.


2. Care Order

2.1 The Local Authority’s Consent

If a young person of 16 or 17 who is the subject of a Care Order expresses a wish to marry or enter into a civil partnership, this should first be considered at their Looked After Review. It may be appropriate to bring the Review forward to ensure a prompt discussion.

The Review may recommend that the young person’s wishes should be supported and consent should be granted. The Review should also consider at this stage whether, and when, it might be appropriate to seek a discharge of the Care Order. The social worker should obtain legal advice as to the appropriate steps to be followed.

It will always be necessary to seek the parents’ written consent.

The social worker should discuss the situation with their Head of Service who will seek the views of the Executive Director on giving consent. The social worker, in conjunction with the young person and any Personal Adviser, should prepare a written report setting out the circumstances of the proposed marriage/civil partnership, the young person’s views, the parents’ views, the LAC Review recommendations and attaching a copy of the parents’ written consents (if given), the Care Plan/Pathway Plan and the minutes of the most recent Looked After Review.

The Executive Director should decide on whether the consent of the local authority should be given. The decision should be evidenced in writing, together with reasons, and a copy retained on the young person’s file.

If the consent of the parents and the local authority is given, the marriage/civil partnership can go ahead.

The young person will be an Eligible Young Person and entitled to support under the Leaving Care and Transition Procedure.

2.2 Where Consent is Not Given

Where the necessary consents are not given to the marriage/civil partnership by the parents and/or the local authority, the social worker and any Personal Adviser should consider with the young person whether they wish to obtain legal advice regarding a possible application to the Court for consent to the marriage/civil partnership and/or discharge of the Care Order.

In such circumstances, the social worker should ask the Head of Service for a contribution towards the young person’s legal fees if Legal Aid is not available.


3. No Care Order

If a young person of 16 or 17 who is Accommodated (s20, Children Act, 1989) expresses a wish to marry or enter into a civil partnership, this should be considered at the Looked After Review even though the formal consent of the local authority is not necessary. It may be appropriate to bring the Review forward to ensure a prompt discussion.

Where the parents give consent, the marriage/civil partnership can go ahead. Whether or not the young person leaves the looked after service at this stage, s/he will be an Eligible or Relevant Young Person and entitled to support under Leaving Care and Transition Procedure.

The Review may recommend that the young person’s wish should be supported even where the parents’ consent is not given.

In these circumstances, the social worker and any Personal Adviser should consider with the young person whether they wish to obtain legal advice regarding a possible application to the Court for consent.

If they do, the social worker should ask the Head of Service for a contribution towards the young person’s legal fees if Legal Aid is not available.

End