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For example, Victoria passed legislation inNew South Wales inand the remaining Australian colonies passed similar legislation between and English law defined the role of the wife as a feme covertemphasizing her subordination to her husband, and putting her under the "protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord".
Any personal property acquired by the wife during the marriage, unless specified that it was for her own separate use, went automatically to her husband. If a woman writer had copyright before marriage, the copyright would pass to the husband afterwards, for instance. Further, a married woman was unable to draft a will or dispose of any property without her husband's consent.
Women were often limited in what they could inherit. Males were more likely to receive real property landwhile females with brothers were sometimes limited to inherited personal property, which included clothing, jewellery, household furniture, food, and all moveable goods.
The law of intestate primogeniture remained on the statute books in Britain until the property legislation simplified and updated England's archaic law of real property. Aware of their daughters' unfortunate situation, fathers often provided them with dowries or worked into a prenuptial agreement pin money, the estate which the wife was to possess for her sole and separate use not subject to the control of her husband, to provide her with an income separate from his.
In contrast to wives, women who never married or who were widowed maintained control over their property and inheritance, owned land and controlled property disposal, since by law any unmarried adult female was considered to be a feme sole. Once married, the only way that women could reclaim property was through widowhood.
The dissolution of a marriage, whether initiated by the husband or wife, usually left the divorced females impoverished, as the law offered them no rights to marital property. The Caroline Norton court case highlighted the injustice of English property laws, and generated enough support that eventually resulted in the Married Women's Property Act. After years of political lobbying, the Married Women's Property Act addressed the grievances presented by English women.
The Act altered the common law doctrine of coverture to include the wife's right to own, buy and sell her separate property. Married women's legal rights included the right to sue and be sued.
Any damages a wife might pay would be her own responsibility, instead of that of her husband. Married women were then also liable for their own debts, and any outside trade they owned was subject to bankruptcy laws. Further, married women were able to hold stock in their own names. As ofmost of the Act has been repealed. Of these, one of the more important was s. Also, the Contracts Rights of Third Parties Act enables both men and women to enforce contracts drawn up by others for their benefit. United Kingdom legislation. Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commentaries on the Laws of England — Lonang Institute.
Martin's, Legislation of the United Kingdom.
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Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes file. Download as PDF Printable version. An act to consolidate and amend the law relating to the property of married women. England and Wales .
Married Women's Property Scotland ActMarried women United Kingdom
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of opposite-sex marriages in England and Wales (UK) , by age group