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W3C Compliance

7.7.2 Marriage of a Looked After Child

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to 16 and 17 year olds who are Looked After within Merton and who wish to marry.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and updated in May 2017 to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.


Contents

1. Necessary Consents 
2. Where a Care Order Exists
2.1 The Local Authority’s Consent
2.2 Where Consent is Not Given 
3. Where No Care Order Exists 


1. Necessary Consents

A marriage between two persons one of whom is under 16 is void.

For a young person who is 16 or 17 to marry, the written consent of the 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 the parents. 

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


2. Where a Care Order Exists

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, this should be considered at the Looked After Review hereon after referred to as LAC Review.

The LAC 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 may be appropriate to seek a discharge of the Care Order. The allocated social worker should obtain legal advice within the Department as to the appropriate steps to be followed.

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

The allocated social worker should seek the views of the Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care and Youth Inclusion to the marriage. To do so, the allocated social worker in conjunction with the young person and the named Personal Adviser (if allocated) should prepare a written report setting out the circumstances of the proposed marriage, the young person’s representations, the parents’ views, the LAC review’s recommendation and attaching a copy of the parents’ written consents (if given), the Care Plan, the Pathway Plan and the minutes of the most recent Looked After Review. 

The Assistant Director should decide on whether the consent of the local authority to the marriage 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 can go ahead.

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

2.2 Where Consent is Not Given

Where the necessary consents are not given to the marriage by the parents and/or the local authority, the social worker and the Personal Adviser should consider with the young person whether s/he wishes to obtain legal advice regarding a possible application to the Court for consent to the marriage. 

In such circumstances, the Head of Service should be asked to consider a contribution towards the legal fees if legal aid is not available.


3. Where no Care Order Exists

If a young person of 16 or 17 who is Accommodated expresses a wish to marry, this should be considered at the Looked After Review even though the formal consent of the local authority is not necessary.

Where the parents give consent, the marriage 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 the Leaving Care Procedure.

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

In these circumstances, the allocated social worker and Personal Adviser should consider with the young person whether s/he wishes to obtain legal advice regarding a possible application to the Court for consent to the marriage. 

If so, the allocated social worker should request the Head of Service to consider a contribution towards the young person’s legal fees if legal aid is not available.

End