Campaigners hopeful of securing change to marriage certificates

As it stands, only fathers’ names are recorded on the paperwork

Changes to legislation can take time, particularly in fields such as family law – where progress is made at an often glacial pace.

Yet campaigners are optimistic that 2018 will finally see a long-awaited amendment to marriage certificates.

For some time now, a number of MPs and members of the public have been pushing for a change to the certificates, which will allow for the mothers of the bride and groom to be included on the document

As it stands, only fathers’ names are recorded on the paperwork, which critics say is well out of step with the modern world.

The Home Office is now set to sign off a change, which will see the mothers’ details added to the digital register.

It may be a while before the paper certificates are amended however, with suggestions that replacing the UK’s 84,000 marriage registers would cost the Government in the region of £13million.

The current format of marriage certificates was agreed as long ago as 1837 – the year that a teenage Queen Victoria came to the throne.

It was the first time that a nationwide system for registering births, marriages and deaths had been formally adopted by the UK. Although those who have lobbied for change have been appalled that the details included have not been updated for well in excess of150 years.

The former Prime Minister David Cameron had signalled he would support reform, but plans to make changes have continued to suffer from delays.

A new cross-party campaign led by Dame Caroline Spelman, a former cabinet minister who is the Church of England’s representative at Westminster, has helped to bring the issue back into the spotlight.

The proposals have won support from both sides of the House, with Labour MP Frank Field among those to speak in favour of the changes.

“Children have two parents, even if they are not living together and every opportunity should be taken to affirm that truth, and particularly when it’s often the mum who is with the child if parents aren’t together anymore,” he said.

“It is an insult, really, to the person who has most treasured and nurtured you, in most instances.”

Harry Benson, from the Marriage Foundation, welcomed the news that progress was finally being made.

“Having only the father’s name on the certificate is one reason why people mistakenly think marriage can be a patriarchal institution,” he said.