What family members can you marry in the UK?

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In this blog we will briefly list out what family members you can marry in the UK and which family members you cannot marry in the UK. 

What family members can you marry in the UK?

According to the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986– part of the UK general Public Acts, you can marry the following family members in the UK:

Man-Daughter/granddaughter of former spouse 

The Marriage act of 1986 states:

“A marriage solemnised after the commencement of this Act between a man and a woman who is the daughter or grand-daughter of a former spouse of his (whether the former spouse is living or not) shall not be void by reason only of that relationship if both the parties have attained the age of twenty-one at the time of the marriage and the younger party has not at any time before attaining the age of eighteen been a child of the family in relation to the other party.”

This means that a man can marry a woman who is the daughter or a granddaughter for his former spouse (living or dead); provided that both parties are above the age of 21 and the woman or younger party has not, at any age before 18, lived with the man or have been considered a child of the man involved. 

This means that the man and woman have not at any point shared a parent-child relationship (biological or adopted) nor have they lived together at any point before the age of 18 for the younger person involved. 

Man-former spouse of his father/ grandfather

The Marriage act of 1986 states:

“A marriage solemnised after the commencement of this Act  between a man…or who is the former spouse of his father or grandfather (whether his father or grandfather is living or not) shall not be void by reason only of that relationship if both the parties have attained the age of twenty-one at the time of the marriage and the younger party has not at any time before attaining the age of eighteen been a child of the family in relation to the other party.”

This means that it is legal, based on this Act,  to marry your father’s or grandfather’s spouse provided that both parties are above the age of 21 and the man or younger party has not, at any age before 18, lived with the woman or have been considered a child of the woman involved.

This means that the man and woman have not at any point shared a parent-child relationship (biological or adopted) nor have they lived together at any point before the age of 18 for the younger person involved. 

Man- Grandmother of former spouse

The Marriage act of 1986 states:

“A marriage solemnised after the commencement of this Act between a man and a woman who is the grandmother of a former spouse of his (whether the former spouse is living or not)…shall not be void by reason only of that relationship.”

This means that a man can marry the grandmother of a foreigner spouse irrespective of whether that spruce is dead or alive.

Man-former Granddaughter-in-law

“A marriage solemnised after the commencement of this Act between a man and a woman who… is a former spouse of his grandson (whether his grandson is living or not)….shall not be void by reason only of that relationship.”

This legalises the marriage between a man and his former granddaughter- in law irrespective of whether the grandson is dead or alive. 

Half cousins

The law also permits the marriage between two half cousins, irrespective of whether the parent shared between them is living or not) as long as both parties are at least 21 years of age and they have not lived under the same roof until the age of eighteen.

This means that they are both consenting adults and have never shared a sibling relationship or have lived together before they turned 18 at any point of their young lives. 

A marriage between a man and a woman who is the grandmother of a former spouse of his (whether the former spouse is living or not) OR is a former spouse of his grandson (whether his grandson is living or not).”

Adoptive siblings

Adoptive siblings are permitted to marry provided that they do not share more than 25% of shared DNA. However for this, they should seek out legal counsel and have authorisation from the government recognising their marriage. 

In most cases they will be allowed to marry however this will only include a civil ceremony as religious solemnization will mostly be prohibited. 

Step relatives

Writers at MyLawyer notes that People who shared Step-relationships may be allowed to marry in the UK however under strict circumstances.

They should seek ou legal counsel to check these strict requirements some of them include:

  • Both parties are 21 or above the age of 21
  • They have not shared any sibling relationship at any point
  • They younger has not been treated as the child of the older person’s family
  • They have not lived together at any point in time before the age of 18 of the younger individual. 

These marriages may usually only take place during a civil ceremony, under licence and often require authorisation by the court of law to be recognised as a union. It is unlikely that the church will solemnise the union. .

In-Laws

Writers at MyLawyer notes that it is possible that in-laws can marry legally, provided that they are both 21 years of age or older and they have no biological relations.

In laws that are permitted to marry include:

  • Child of former civil partner
  • Child of former spouse
  • Former civil partner of grandparent
  • Former civil partner of parent
  • Former spouse of grandparent
  • Former spouse of parent
  • Grandchild of former civil partner
  • Grandchild of former spouse

In Scotland, the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986 allows for the marriage between the following:

  • Man- grandmother of former spouse
  • Man- former spouse of grandson
  • Woman and man who is grandfather of former spouse
  • Woman and former spouse of granddaughter
  • Under certain conditions, the marriage of persons related in certain other degrees of affinity)shall have effect; for example, adopted siblings can marry. 

What family members can you NOT marry in the UK?

According to Jessica Lindsey for Metro, you are not allowed to marry the following:

  • Mother
  • Father
  • Son including your step or adopted son
  • Daughter including your step or adopted daughter
  • Brother, including half-siblings.
  • Sister, including half-siblings.
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Uncles or aunties, including a half-uncle or half-aunt.
  • Nieces or nephews, including your half niece or nephews.

Based on this list, you are not legally allowed to marry family members with whom you have 25 percent of shared DN or someone who is related to you by the 4th Degree or less. 

According to the  Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986, a citizen of the UK is prohibited from marrying the following persons:

Blood relatives

This includes marriages between siblings and between a parent and child. The law also prohibits the union between half siblings as well as between parent and child. 

Marriages between grand parent- grand child is also prohibited in the UK as well as marriages between Uncles/Aunts- Niece/Nephews. 

Adopted children

Marriage between children who have been adopted by another family cannot legally marry their own biological parents, siblings, and grandparents- even if they are unaware of their genetic relationships; upon finding out, the marriage will be considered null or void. 

Adopted children and adoptive parents are also prohibited from getting married meaning that if the child has at anypoint lived with the parent or been considered their child, they will not be permitted to marry. 

Step relatives

Step relatives are generally not permitted to marry in most cases, step siblings who have lived together at any point of their young lives before the age of 18 and have shared a family relationship are not permitted to marry by law. 

However, they will be permitted to have a civil union if:

  • Both parties are 21 or above the age of 21
  • They have not shared any sibling relationship at any point
  • They younger has not been treated as the child of the older person’s family
  • They have not lived together at any point in time before the age of 18 of the younger individual. 

These marriages may usually only take place during a civil ceremony, under licence and often require authorisation by the court of law to be recognised as a union. It is unlikely that the church will solemnise the union.

Conclusion

In this blog we have briefly listed out what family members you can marry in the UK and which family members you cannot marry in the UK. 

FAQ related to What family members can I marry in the UK?

What relatives are you not allowed to marry?

In most countries you are not permitted to legally marry the following:

  • Blood relatives-Parents, siblings, half siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews.
  • Adopted children-adopted parents
  • Step relatives in most cases
  • Any individual or family member you have 25% shared DNA
  • Any individual you share less than 4th Degree affinity

Can a brother and sister get married in UK?

No siblings cannot get married in the UK, it is considered illegal since it is an incestous relationship. 

Can you marry your brother-in-law in the UK?

Yes, it is legal to marry your brother-in-law provided that you are both 21 years of age or older and they have no biological relations.

Can you marry your aunt in the UK?

No, it is illegal and marriages between aunt and niece/nephews are not allowed or legal. 

Can two sets of siblings marry?

It is possible for two sets of siblings to marry provided that both partners of each pair are biologically not related to each other. 

That is called a “double first cousin.” where two siblings of one family mate with two siblings of another family and the resulting children are related to each other through both of their parents and are thus doubly related.

Is incest a crime UK?

Even if both parties are consenting ADULTS, incest is illegal and a criminal offence and the people involved will be tred by the court of law. In the case the incest occurs between two siblings who are underaged, it is considered illegal with the possbility of the older child being tried of child sexual abuse. 

References

Lindsey.J. Can you marry your cousin in the UK? Which family members is it illegal to marry? Metro. Retrieved on March 14th 2022. https://metro.co.uk/2018/08/01/can-marry-cousin-uk-family-members-illegal-marry-7785320/#:~:text=Here%20in%20 Britain%20 it’s%20 actually,haven’t%20come%20 under%20 fire.

Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986. Legislation.UK. Retrieved on 14th March 2022. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/16

The law on getting married. My Lawyer. Retrieved on 14th March 2022. https://www.mylawyer.co.uk/the-law-on-getting-married-a-A76051D76350/#link7

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