What is forced marriage?

A forced marriage occurs when either or both parties have been pressured into marrying, without giving their consent and some element of duress is involved.

Duress can involve physical and sexual abuse or may involve psychological and emotional pressure.

For example, family members may insist that rejection of the marriage may bring shame to the family; or arrangements for the marriage may be made without the intended bride/groom being told the purpose of the trip.

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    Forced Marriage is not at all the same as the cultural tradition of an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage the families of both spouse take a leading role in arranging the marriage but both the bride and groom are given complete choice as to whether to accept the marriage or not. All major religions reflect that the consent of a person is fundamental to a legitimate marriage.

    The legal minimum age at which a person can consent to marriage is 16 years with parental consent. The majority of forced marriages affect female victims but also increasingly male and homosexual victims are affected.

    What do I do if I am being pressured to marry against my wishes?

    You must contact us immediately to obtain advice in respect of a Forced Marriage Protection Order. An application can be made in an emergency to obtain urgent and immediate protection to a person being forced into marriage.

    If you believe you, or somebody you know may be taken out of the country for the purpose of being forced into marriage you should contact us immediately. We can apply to the court for an initial order without the knowledge of the person/persons trying to force a marriage.

    I am worried I am being taken abroad to be married, what can I do?

    If you believe that you may become a victim of forced marriage please contact us for immediate advice. At the very least give somebody that you can trust, full details of where you may be staying, contact telephone numbers, flight details and your passport details.

    What can I do if I am already abroad?

    We are still able to help you even if you are abroad. It is important that either you or somebody contacts us as a matter of urgency as we have experience of representing clients living, working or travelling abroad.

    Do I have to go to the police?

    No. Even though Forced Marriage was made a criminal offence in June 2014 we understand that many victims do not want to involve the police. They do not want their family to be punished but merely wish to be protected from marrying against their will. The police can help to protect you though if you are at imminent risk of harm.

    Is Legal Aid available?

    Legal aid is available in many circumstances to obtain a Forced Marriage Protection Order. We can advise if you are likely to be eligible for legal aid.

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    Gill Noury is an excellent International Family Law Senior Legal Advisor. As my international child abduction case progressed in 2014 to a fortunate consent order after 5 months of intense legal battle I realized she was highly experienced and hands on. She not only provided me very good legal advice, but was also very sympathetic to my distraught situation. She was accessible all the times I needed to communicate with her or needed her personal support. She was at the same time very professional and demonstrated high integrity and human values. I found these attributes scarce in UK’s legal practitioner.

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    We run a legal surgery here at our advice and drop in centre specifically for our clients who have experienced domestic abuse. A&N have been a constant support to this surgery over the year providing an invaluable service, they have been committed to the provision of legal aid advice and pro bono clinics and as such have enhanced the service provision which we are able to offer to our clients.

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    Helen was absolutely fantastic, the case was long and difficult but Helen was there for me when I needed her on the telephone and at court. She didn’t beat about the bush and gave me constructive criticism which I appreciated. My kids are now safely home with me where they belong and they love the teddies you sent for them. It was a really lovely thought, Thank you for everything.

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    Liz Newbold & Her team were great from the very first phone call to the final court date, they did nothing but help whether it was a phone call or an email they got back to you as soon as they could. They were there for support when you needed it the most and they always put there all into every court date we had. I couldn’t have asked for a better solicitors to handle my case regarding my child. It was great to finally get victory and show we were not guilty, we couldn’t have achieved what we have done today without the help of Liz Newbold and her team of highly specialised solicitors and I am forever thankful for everything they have done for me and my family.

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    I’ve been working with A&N Care Solicitors since I was in PLO. I was in an OK place, then an incident occurred in July 2014 which resulted in the local authority taking away my child in to care. She went up for adoption last year in March but I kept fighting with the help of A&N care solicitors and did all that was asked. I fell pregnant and thought I couldn’t keep it, but nope, my solicitors and I kept fighting and I’ve had my daughter return from birth home. It’s resulted in my older daughter coming home too and not being adopted. I really have to say though without the help of Natalie and Ruth from A&N Care I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would recommend these to anybody if you are fighting for your children. Thank you very much A&N you are the best family law firm I’ve ever known.

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