“The Civil Partnership Act & English Women’s Property Act”

#AceHistoryNews says “The Civil Partnership Act” came into force, granting civil partnerships in the United Kingdom with rights and responsibilities identical to civil marriage.

History:

The Civil Partnership Act 2004The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (c 33) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Bill for this Act was introduced by the Labour government and supported by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat opposition. The Act grants civil partnerships in the United Kingdom with rights and responsibilities identical to civil marriage. Civil Partners are entitled to the same property rights as married opposite-sex couples, the same exemption as married couples social security and pension benefits, and also the ability to get parental responsibility for a partner’s children as well as responsibility for reasonable maintenance of one’s partner and their children, tenancy rights, full life insurance recognition, next-of-kin rights in hospitals, and others. There is a formal process for dissolving partnerships akin to divorce.

This led to even further Rights for Women with the advent of the Married Women’s Property Act that  provided women with further protection for themselves and their children.  Though this was well before “Property Rights” were enshrined into law.

Married Women’s Property Act {Originally called English Women’s Property Rights}

Womens RightsEnglish law defined the role of the wife as a ‘feme covert’, emphasizing her subordination to her husband, and putting her under the ‘protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord’. Upon marriage, the husband and wife became one person under the law, as the property of the wife was surrendered to her husband, and her legal identity ceased to exist. 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 (land), while females with brothers were sometimes limited to inherited personal property, which included clothing, jewellery, household furniture, food, and all moveable goods. In an instance where no will was found, the English law of primogeniture automatically gave the oldest son the right to all real property, and the daughter only inherited real property in the absence of a male heir. The law of intestate primogeniture remained on the books in Britain until 1925.

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 1836 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.

English Womens Property RightsThe 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. Wives’ legal identities were also restored, as the courts were forced to recognize a husband and a wife as two separate legal entities, in the same manner as if the wife was a feme sole. 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. The Act applied in England (and Wales) and Ireland (subsequently only Northern Ireland), but did not extend to Scotland.

Property Rights: 

In abstract, property is that had by or belongs to/with something, whether as an attribute or a component. For the significant context of this article, property is one or more components (rather than attributes), whether physical or incorporeal, of a person’s estate; or so belonging to, as in being owned by, a person or jointly a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation or even a society. (Given such meaning, the word property is uncountable, and as such, is not described with an indefinite article or as plural.) Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property has the right to consume, alter, share, redefinerentmortgagepawnsellexchange,transfergive away or destroy it, or to exclude others from doing these things, as well as perhaps to abandon it; whereas regardless of the nature of the property, the owner thereof has the right to properly use it (as a durablemean or factor, or whatever), or at the very least exclusively keep it.

Property that jointly belongs to more than one party may be possessed or controlled thereby in very similar or very distinct ways, whether simply or complexly, whether equally or unequally. However, there is an expectation that each party’s will (rather discretion) with regard to the property be clearly defined and unconditional, so as to distinguish ownership and easement from rent. The parties might expect their wills to be unanimous, or alternately every given one of them, when no opportunity for or possibility of dispute with any other of them exists, may expect his, her, its or their own will to be sufficient and absolute.

The Restatement (First) of Property defines Property as any thing, tangible or intangible whereby a legal relationship between persons and the State enforces a possessory interest or legal title in that thing. This mediating relationship between individual, property and state is called as property regimes.

Important widely recognized types of  property include real property (the combination of land and any improvements to or on the land), personal property (physical possessions belonging to a person), private property (property owned by legal persons, business entities or individual natural persons), public property (state-owned or publicly owned and available possessions) and intellectual property (exclusive rights over artistic creations, inventions, etc.), although the latter is not always as widely recognized or enforced. An article of property may have physical and incorporeal parts. A title, or a right of ownership, establishes the relation between the property and other persons, assuring the owner the right to dispose of the property as the owner sees fit.

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