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Report No. 66

2.3. Property of married woman-English statutes.-

So far as legislation relating to property1 of married women is concerned, the major Acts in England were of 1857, 1870, 1882, 1935 and 1949. Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1857, provided that so long as a judicial separation was in force, the wife was to be deemed to be a feme sole with respect to any property which she should acquire. Secondly, section 21 of that Act provided that if a wife were deserted, she might obtain a protection order, which would have the effect of protecting from seizure by the husband and the husband's creditors, any property and earnings to which she became entitled after the desertion, and of vesting them in her as if she were a feme sole. These two provisions modify the common law rule to which we have referred.2

The Married Women's Property Act, 1870, created a further exception to the common law rule, by providing that in certain cases specified in the Act, property acquired by the wife should be deemed to be held for her separate use. Amongst the important cases of property so specified were her earnings, deposits in savings banks, stocks and shares, and, in very limited circumstances, property devolving upon her on intestacy. This Act was repealed by the Married Women's Property Act, 1882, which is considered below.

1. For some of these Act, see Appendices 3 to 5.

2. Para. 2.2, supra.

Married Womens Property Act, 1874 Back

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