We aim to…
Change the law such that a marriage does not automatically revoke a Will
The current law is not well-known, and causes problems such as ours. When someone marries, the current rule totally ignores their previously stated wishes. Changes to a Will should be explicitly made by the person concerned.
Create an offence of Predatory Marriage.
The law already considers that it is an offence to marry someone who does not have the mental capacity to agree. But the offence is currently “Forced Marriage”: which we have seen causes even professionals to misunderstand when an offence has occurred.
Publish Notices/Banns on the Internet.
The purpose of the Notices/Banns is to publish an intention to marry. The best way to do this is on the Internet. At present Notices are published only physically within the Register Office and Banns in the church.
Train Registrars to look for signs of insufficient mental capacity to marry.
Registrars are currently given inadequate training or help in assessing whether a person is fit to marry.
Ensure Registrars will stop a marriage ceremony if there are any doubts.
Registrars will stop a marriage if they think there is some problem. There need to be clear national procedures on when this must be done, plus consequences for the General Register Office if it does not happen.
Add “The marriage was fraudulent” to the permitted reasons to annul a marriage after one party has died.
There are currently just two reasons allowed in law: the marriage was bigamous; or the marriage was incestuous.
Check for Power of Attorney before marriage.
Where a person has given someone Power of Attorney to look after their affairs, the pre-marriage checks should ensure that the person concerned is aware of the marriage before it takes place, so they can take whatever action they deem appropriate.
Record the interviews and marriage ceremony.
There is currently no evidence kept at either the pre-marriage interview nor the ceremony. This makes it impossible to prove fraud. It would be trivial and inexpensive to record both the interview and the ceremony itself and keep the recordings for a suitable length of time.
To allow individuals to speak freely, the interview recordings should be regarded as private.
Require separate interviews.
Currently Registrars are supposed to conduct the pre-marriage interviews separately. But this is only guidance. We believe separate interviews should be required in order that the marriage is valid. This is vital for many situations involving vulnerable people.
Link Power of Attorney to marriage.
Power of Attorney allows a person (the donor – Joan Blass in our case) to grant someone else (the attorney – Daphne in our case) the right to manage their affairs if they become unable to do so. We want to make it so that anyone with Power of Attorney is told when their donor formally declares their intention to marry (the first marriage interview with the Registrars). In Joan’s case, the Power of Attorney which should have protected her failed to do so because Daphne was not told about the man’s plan to marry her.
To be clear, we do not want the attorney to have to agree to the marriage; only that they should be informed so that they can carry out their duty to act in the donor’s best interests.