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Report No. 66

2.5. Act of 1935-Provisions as to property.-

The Law Reform (Married Women and Tort-feasor) Act, 1935, is the next Act of importance. By 1935 almost all married women's property was owned by them as their separate property. To speak of "separate property" was, therefore, becoming something of an anomaly, since married women in almost all cases had the same capacity to hold and dispose of it as a man or a feme sole. Because of this position, the Legislature, in the Law Reform (Married Women and Tort-feasors) Act, 1935, abolished the concept of the separate estate, and gave to the wife the same rights and powers as were already possessed by other adults of full capacity. The material provision1 was as follows:

"A married woman shall be capable of acquiring, holding, and disposing of, any property in all respects as if she were feme sole."

"All property which-

(a) immediately before the passing of this Act was the separate property of a married woman or held for her separate use in equity; or

(b) belongs at the time of her marriage to a woman married after the passing of this Act; or

(c) after the passing of this Act is acquired by or devolves upon a married woman, shall belong to her in all respects as if she were a feme sole and may be disposed of accordingly."

The Act did not touch any existing restraint on anticipation.2 But it sounded the death knell of the latter, for it rendered void any attempted imposition of a restraint on anticipation in any instrument executed after 1935 and in the will of any person dying after 1945, even though the will was executed before 1936.3

1. Sections 1(a) and 2(1) of the Act of 1935 (Appendix 4).

2. Section 2(1) (Appendix 4).

3. Sections 2(2), 3 and Appendix 4.

Married Womens Property Act, 1874 Back

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