Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill

Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill

Member’s Bill

256—1

Explanatory note

General policy statement

In New Zealand, the marriageable age is 18 years of age. Marriage is illegal under the age of 16 years. However 16 and 17 year olds who wish to marry can do so with parental consent. This occurs on average about 80 times each year, with 80% of those 16 and 17 year olds being female.

This Bill has arisen out of the concern that some 16 and 17 year olds may be undergoing forced marriage. This Bill proposes that 16 and 17 year olds who wish to marry must apply to the court, and sets out how the court is to consider the application.

A forced marriage is a marriage where 1 or both people do not (or in the case of some people with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. A forced marriage may not be limited to 16 and 17 year olds.

An arranged marriage is not the same as a forced marriage. In an arranged marriage, the families take a leading role in choosing the marriage partner, but the choice of whether to enter the marriage is left to both people who are parties to the intended marriage.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence, and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel as if they are bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking a person’s wages or not giving the person any money) can also be a factor.

Clause by clause analysis

Clause 1 is the Title clause.

Clause 2 is the commencement clause. It provides for the Bill to come into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

Clause 3 provides that the Bill amends the Marriage Act 1955 (the principal Act).

Part 1Amendments to principal Act

Clause 4 amends section 3, which relates to the application of the principal Act, so as to reflect that an effect of the Bill is that there will be a single provision relating to consent to the marriage of minors, rather than several provisions.

Clause 5 replaces sections 18 to 20 with a new section 18, which requires the consent of a Family Court Judge to a minor’s marriage and sets out matters related to the hearing of the application.

Clause 6 amends section 42, which relates to notices of intended marriage outside New Zealand, so as to reflect that an effect of the Bill is that there will be a single provision relating to consent to the marriage of minors, rather than several provisions.

Clause 7 amends section 64A, which relates to rules of procedure, by removing references to section 19, which is replaced by new section 18 by clause 5.

Part 2Consequential amendment to Care of Children Act 2004

Clause 8 states that Part 2 amends the Care of Children Act 2004.

Clause 9 amends section 46, which relates to children obtaining a review by a Family Court Judge of a parent’s or guardian’s decision or refusal to give consent. The amendment removes references to provisions of the principal Act that are replaced by new section 18 by clause 5.