Lewis Chatten of our Family Department considers Forced Marriage Protection Orders.
A forced marriage can be defined as a person who enters into a marriage without their “free” and “full” consent.
The scope of protection contained in a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) is very wide and will award protection to a person being forced into a marriage as well as any attempt of another person to force the protected person into a marriage. The scope of protection also extends to those who have already been forced into a marriage. This force can include coercion or other psychological means and it is not necessarily confined to usual threats of violence or harm.
Before deciding to make a FMPO, the Court should have regard to all the circumstances including the need to secure the health, safety and well-being of the protected person. In respect of well-being, the Court should pay particular mind to the wishes and feelings of the protected person but only in so far as the Court considers appropriate given the age and understanding of the protected person.
A FMPO will award protection to the named protected person and may contain such prohibitions, restrictions or requirement and such other terms as the court considers appropriate. For example, this may include a surrender of the protected person’s passport. FMPOs can last for a specific amount of time or until such time it is varied or discharged.
Applications for FMPOs can be made by the protected person themselves or by a relevant third party, for example the Local Authority or any other person however permission from the Court will be required for this.
Where possible the Court should consider whether it is appropriate to accept undertakings (legal promises to the Court) in place of making a FMPO against a Respondent in proceedings. Undertakings will not be appropriate where the Respondent has used or threatened violence against the protected person; to ensure the protected persons protection it is necessary to make a FMPO so that any breach can be punished by the Court.
A person who breaches the terms of a FMPO without reasonable excuse will be guilty of a criminal offence and may be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
Should you have any questions or would like to make an appointment about Forced Marriage Protection Orders, then please contact us on 0121 704 3311. Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.