Family Law Reform Act 1969

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1969 c. 46


Family Law ReformAct 1969

1969 CHAPTER 46

An Act to amend the law relating to the age of majority, to persons who have not attained that age and to the time when a particular age is attained; to amend the law relating to the property rights of illegitimate children and of other persons whose relationship is traced through an illegitimate link; to make provision for the use of blood tests for the purpose of determining the paternity of any person in civil proceedings; to make provision with respect to the evidence required to rebut a presumption of legitimacy and illegitimacy; to make further provision, in connection with the registration of the birth of an illegitimate child, for entering the name of the father; and for connected purposes.

[25th July 1969]

B e it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Reduction of Age of Majority and Related Provisions

Part I

Reduction of Age of Majority andRelated Provisions

S-1 Reduction of age of majority from 21 to 18.

1 Reduction of age of majority from 21 to 18.

(1) As from the date on which this section comes into force a person shall attain full age on attaining the age of eighteen instead of on attaining the age of twenty-one; and a person shall attain full age on that date if he has then already attained the age of eighteen but not the age of twenty-one.

(2) The foregoing subsection applies for the purposes of any rule of law, and, in the absence of a definition or of any indication of a contrary intention, for the construction of ‘full age’, ‘infant’, ‘infancy’, ‘minor’, ‘minority’ and similar expressions in—

( a ) any statutory provision, whether passed or made before, on or after the date on which this section comes into force; and

( b ) any deed, will or other instrument of whatever nature (not being a statutory provision) made on or after that date.

(3) In the statutory provisions specified in Schedule 1 to this Act for any reference to the age of twenty-one years there shall be substituted a reference to the age of eighteen years; but the amendment by this subsection of the provisions specified in Part II of that Schedule shall be without prejudice to any power of amending or revoking those provisions.

(4) This section does not affect the construction of any such expression as is referred to in subsection (2) of this section in any of the statutory provisions described in Schedule 2 to this Act, and the transitional provisions and savings contained in Schedule 3 to this Act shall have effect in relation to this section.

(5) The Lord Chancellor may by order made by statutory instrument amend any provision in any local enactment passed on or before the date on which this section comes into force (not being a provision described in paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 to this Act) by substituting a reference to the age of eighteen years for any reference therein to the age of twenty-one years; and any statutory instrument containing an order under this subsection shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

(6) In this section ‘statutory provision’ means any enactment (including, except where the context otherwise requires, this Act) and any order, rule, regulation, byelaw or other instrument made in the exercise of a power conferred by any enactment.

(7) Notwithstanding any rule of law, a will or codicil executed before the date on which this section comes into force shall not be treated for the purposes of this section as made on or after that date by reason only that the will or codicil is confirmed by a codicil executed on or after that date.

S-2 Provisions relating to marriage.

2 Provisions relating to marriage.

(1) In the following enactments, that is to say—

( a ) section 7( c ) of the Foreign Marriage Act 1892 (persons under 21 intending to be married by a marriage officer to swear that necessary consents have been obtained);

( b ) paragraph 2( c ) of Part I of the Schedule to the Marriage with Foreigners Act 1906 (persons under 21 seeking certificate to swear that necessary consents have been obtained);

( c ) section 78(1) of the Marriage Act 1949 (definition of ‘infant’ as person under the age of 21),

for the words ‘twenty-one years’ there shall be substituted the words ‘eighteen years’.

(2) In subsection (5) of section 3 of the said Act of 1949 (which defines the courts having jurisdiction to consent to the marriage of an infant)—

( a ) for the words ‘the county court of the district in which any respondent resides’ there shall be substituted the words ‘the county court of the district in which any applicant or respondent resides’; and

( b ) after the words ‘or a court of summary jurisdiction’ there shall be inserted the words ‘having jurisdiction in the place in which any applicant or respondent resides’.

(3) Where for the purpose of obtaining a certificate or licence for marriage under Part III of the said Act of 1949 a person declares that the consent of any person or persons whose consent to the marriage is required under the said section 3 has been obtained, the superintendent registrar may refuse to issue the certificate or licence for marriage unless satisfied by the production of written evidence that the consent of that person or of those persons has in fact been obtained.

(4) In this section any expression which is also used in the said Act of 1949 has the same meaning as in that Act.

S-3 Provisions relating to wills and intestacy.

3 Provisions relating to wills and intestacy.

(1) In the following enactments, that is to say—

( a ) section 7 of the Wills Act 1837 (invalidity of wills made by persons under 21);

( b ) sections 1 and 3(1) of the Wills (Soldiers and Sailors) Act 1918 (soldier etc. eligible to make will and dispose of real property although under 21),

in their application to wills made after the coming into force of this section, for the words ‘twenty-one years’ there shall be substituted the words ‘eighteen years’.

(2) In section 47(1)(i) of the Administration of Estates Act 1925 (statutory trusts on intestacy), in its application to the estate of an intestate dying after the coming into force of this section, for the words ‘twenty-one years’ in both places where they occur there shall be substituted the words ‘eighteen years’.

(3) Any will which—

( a ) has been made, whether before or after the coming into force of this section, by a person under the age of eighteen; and

( b ) is valid by virtue of the provisions of section 11 of the said Act of 1837 and the said Act of 1918,

may be revoked by that person notwithstanding that he is still under that age whether or not the circumstances are then such that he would be entitled to make a valid will under those provisions.

(4) In this section ‘will’ has the same meaning as in the said Act of 1837 and ‘intestate’ has the same meaning as in the said Act of 1925.

S-4 Maintenance for children under Guardianship of Infants Acts to continue to age of 21.

4 Maintenance for children under Guardianship of Infants Acts to continue to age of 21.

(1) An order under section 3(2), 5(4) or 6 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1925 for the payment of sums towards the maintenance or education of a minor may require such sums to continue to be paid in respect of any period after the date on which he ceases to be a minor but not extending beyond the date on which he attains the age of twenty-one; and any order which is made as aforesaid may provide that any sum which is payable thereunder for the benefit of a person who has ceased to be a minor shall be paid to that person himself.

(2) Subject to subsections (3) and (4) of this section, where a person who has ceased to be a minor but has not attained the age of twenty-one has, while a minor, been the subject of an order under any of the provisions of the Guardianship of Infants Acts 1886 and 1925, the court may, on the application of either parent of that person or of that person himself, make an order requiring either parent to pay to the other parent, to anyone else for the benefit of that person or to that person himself, in respect of any period not extending beyond the date when he attains the said age, such weekly or other periodical sums towards his maintenance or education as the court thinks reasonable having regard to the means of the person on whom the requirement is imposed.

(3) No order shall be made under subsection (2) of this section, and no liability under such an order shall accrue, at a time when the parents of the person in question are residing together, and if they so reside for a period of three months after such an order has been made it shall cease to have effect.

(4) No order shall be made under subsection (2) of this section requiring any person to pay any sum towards the maintenance or education of an illegitimate child of that person.

(5) Subsection (2) of this section shall be construed as one with the said Acts of 1886 and 1925, and—

( a ) any order under that subsection, or under any corresponding enactment of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, shall be included among the orders to which section 16 of the Maintenance Orders Act 1950 applies;

( b ) any order under that subsection shall be included among the orders mentioned in section 2(1)( d ) of the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces (Protection of Civil Interests) Act 1951 and be deemed to be a maintenance order within the meaning of the Maintenance Orders Act 1958 .

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