Safeguarding Freedom: Understanding UK Forced Marriage Protection Orders

Forced marriage is a distressing and unacceptable practice that violates fundamental human rights. It increases likelihood of domestic violence and sexual abuse as they may not wish to consent or may not be the legal age to consent to a sexual relationship. Marriage should always be a choice and people should be able to say no if they do not want to get married. In the United Kingdom, significant steps have been taken to combat this issue and protect individuals at risk through the introduction of Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs).

In this blog post, we will explore what FMPOs are, the legal framework surrounding them, and use a simple analogy to help you understand their importance.

Understanding Forced Marriage Protection Orders:

A Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) is a legal tool designed to protect individuals from being forced into marriage or to aid those who have already been forced into a marriage. The primary purpose of an FMPO is to prevent or restrict certain behaviours that could lead to a forced marriage and to provide support for victims. The order can relate to conduct both within or outside of England and Wales.

Legal Framework:

The legal basis for Forced Marriage Protection Orders in the UK can be found in Part 4A of the Family Law Act 1996 (which was introduced by the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007). This legislation empowers courts to issue orders to prevent or stop forced marriages and protect individuals at risk. by virtue of amendments to Part 4A of the Family Law Act made by section 120 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, a criminal offence.

Key Components of FMPOs:

Prohibited Conduct: An FMPO can specify certain actions that are prohibited, such as attempting to force someone into marriage, taking someone abroad for this purpose, or communicating with the victim against their will.

Restrictions: The order may impose restrictions on individuals involved in the forced marriage, including family members, to prevent them from engaging in certain behaviours. For example, an order may require passports to be surrendered to the effect that those involved cannot leave the United Kingdom.

Power of Arrest: An FMPO may grant the police the power to arrest someone who breaches the order.

Duration: FMPOs can be temporary or extended, depending on the circumstances, and may be tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual seeking protection.

Analogy – The Protective Shield:

Imagine a FMPO as a shield that guards individuals from the threat of a forced marriage. This shield is crafted by the legal system and serves as a protective barrier against harmful actions. It not only prevents the forced marriage itself but also acts as a deterrent to those who may contemplate such actions.

Just as a shield provides a sense of security and defence, an FMPO offers legal protection and support to those at risk of forced marriage. It symbolises society’s commitment to safeguarding individual freedoms and ensuring that everyone has the right to make choices about their own lives.


Forced Marriage Protection Orders play a crucial role in the UK’s efforts to combat forced marriages and protect the rights of individuals. By understanding the legal framework and the significance of FMPOs, we contribute to creating a society that values autonomy, choice, and the fundamental human right to live free from coercion and control. The shield of legal protection offered by FMPOs is a testament to the commitment to fostering a culture of respect and empowerment for all.

At Higgins Miller Solicitors, our role in addressing forced marriage cases is pivotal in ensuring the effective implementation of Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs) and providing comprehensive legal support to individuals facing this threat.

As Stockport solicitors, we understand the sensitivity and complexity of these cases, and our expertise allows us to guide clients through the legal processes involved in obtaining, or challenging, an FMPO. Our role encompasses explaining the legal options available, assisting in gathering evidence to support the application, and representing clients.

Additionally, we offer a compassionate and understanding approach, acknowledging the emotional distress that often accompanies such situations. Our commitment extends beyond securing or challenging FMPOs –by combining legal proficiency with empathy, we strive to be a pillar of support for those affected by forced marriages, contributing to the broader effort of eradicating this violation of human rights from our society.

If you or someone you know is at risk of forced marriage, or have had a wrongful FMPO, do not hesitate to reach out to our experienced team for confidential and supportive legal assistance. You can also find out more about domestic violence assist.

Kaley W

January 25, 2024