Parliament Outlaws Teen Marriage, Eases Divorce for Abuse Sufferers Skip to content

Parliament Outlaws Teen Marriage, Eases Divorce for Abuse Sufferers

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

marriage, wedding, bride
Photo: Icelandic wedding. Dagmar Trodler.

The Minister of Justice’s bill to amend marital law was recently passed in Parliament, removing the Ministry’s warrant to grant exceptions that would allow individuals under eighteen to marry. Another amendment to marital law was also passed recently, making it easier for sufferers of domestic abuse to get a divorce from their abusive partners.

In Iceland, people under the age of eighteen are not allowed to wed, but until now, the Ministry of Justice has been able to grant exemptions from that rule. From 1998 to 2018, eighteen children under eighteen were granted such an exemption, most of them seventeen years old.

The new legislation also passes into law a basic rule that Icelandic authorities will recognise marriages that have taken place in other countries if they fulfil the requirements made in the country of origin. Matrimony is not recognised in Iceland if one or both individuals were under 18 when the nuptials took place. The main goal is to coordinate Icelandic marriage legislation with international recommendations and norms concerning the minimum age for matrimony.

Parliament also amended the legislation regarding Icelandic authorities’ jurisdiction to grant a divorce in cases where neither party lives in the country or is an Icelandic citizen. An individual can now file suit for divorce if the ceremony occurred in Iceland, and they can prove that the complainant can’t file suit in their country or country of residence.

Parliament also passed a bill that makes it easier for people who have suffered domestic abuse to get an immediate divorce from their partner. Usually, married couples are first legally separated for at least six months before being able to get a divorce, but in some cases, couples can request an immediate divorce. If both parties agree, they can get an immediate divorce, also in cases of adultery, if the couple has lived apart due to disagreement for two years or more, or if one of them was already married at the time of the nuptials.

Until now, victims of domestic violence have been forced to endure a minimum of six months of legal separation unless their partner acknowledges that they have been abusive. Sufferers of domestic abuse can now request an immediate divorce if their spouse acknowledges the violence or has been sentenced, the police confirm a domestic violence report, or if they can produce injury notes or a therapist’s report indicating domestic abuse. Domestic abuse sufferers will also have a right to expedited divorce proceedings.

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