In English and Welsh law, there are protections in place for those who have been, or are being, forced into a marriage. In this article, we’ll take a look at forced marriage protection orders and explain what you can do if you – or someone close to you – is being forced into marriage.
What is a forced marriage?
When one or both parties do not (or cannot) consent to a marriage, but the wedding goes ahead anyway, this is known as a forced marriage.
Forcing two people to marry against their will is not just restricted to physical threats of violence. It may also take the form of psychological pressure, or even financial abuse.
What is a forced marriage protection order (FMPO)?
A forced marriage protection order is a type of court order which can be utilised to protect the person/s being forced into a marriage.
It can contain a number of different provisions, depending on the requirements of the specific case.
For example, it can prevent the marriage from taking place and can even require that passports be surrendered.
How can I apply for a forced marriage protection order?
Applications for forced marriage protection orders can be made by the person who is being/has been forced into marriage.
Relatives, friends and voluntary workers can also apply for forced marriage protection orders. Anyone else will need permission from the court before they can apply.
A family law solicitor, such as Grayfords, can help you with your application.
What happens if someone breaches a forced marriage protection order?
It is a criminal offence to breach a forced marriage protection order. This means that the police can take action.
Alternatively, it can be dealt with as contempt of court, which carries its own penalties, such as a possible prison sentence.
Are you concerned someone close to you is being forced into marriage?
The Forced Marriage Unit public helpline, run by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Home Office, can offer support and advice.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 999.
We would also highly recommend that you seek legal advice, or encourage your friend to seek legal advice, from a family lawyer. Book your complimentary video consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers today.
Neil Graham, a Partner at Grayfords comments as follows: “Since the introduction of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act in November 2008 the Courts have been able to make orders directed either at a person attempting to force a party into marriage or at those aiding and abetting a forced marriage. The Court has the power to prohibit or restrict certain actions or to order specific steps to be taken both inside and outside England and Wales. A breach of an order under the Act constitutes a criminal offence. Although these orders are only made where the circumstances warrant it the introduction of the Act has given the Court quite wide powers to use its inherent jurisdiction in order to secure the health, safety and well being of a person requiring protection.”