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Brazil: New Law Prohibits Marriage of Persons Under 16 Years of Age

(Mar. 22, 2019) On March 12, 2019, Brazil enacted legislation to prohibit underage persons from marrying. The new law—Law No. 13,811 (Lei No. 13.811, de 12 de Março de 2019, Presidency of the Republic website)—amends article 1,520 of the Civil Code to establish that only persons who have reached the age of marriage determined in article 1,517 of the Civil Code may marry.

Article 1,517 of the Civil Code (CÓDIGO CIVIL, Lei No. 10.406, de 10 de Janeiro de 2002, Presidency of the Republic website) provides that a man and a woman who have not reached the age of majority may marry at age 16 if they have received authorization from both of their parents or their legal representatives. Article 5 of the Civil Code states that minority ceases at 18 years of age, when the person is entitled to practice all acts of civil life.

Before the amendment, article 1,520 of the Civil Code had established that those who had not yet reached the age of marriage according to article 1,517 would exceptionally be allowed to marry to avoid the imposition or enforcement of criminal penalties or in cases of pregnancy.