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Related to coverture: feme covert


An archaic term that refers to the legal status of a married woman.

At Common Law, coverture was the protection and control of a woman by her husband that gave rise to various rights and obligations. Upon marriage, a Husband and Wife were said to have acquired unity of person that resulted in the husband having numerous rights over the property of his wife and in the wife being deprived of her power to enter into contracts or to bring lawsuits as an independent person. These restrictions were abolished by various statutes.

During coverture means within the duration of the marriage.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


formerly, the condition or status of a married woman considered as being under the protection and influence of her husband.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

COVERTURE. The state or condition of a married woman.
     2. During coverture, the being of the wife is civilly merged, for many purposes, into that of her husband; she can, therefore, in general, make no contracts without his consent, express or implied. Com. Dig. Baron and Feme, W; Pleader, 2 A 1; 1 Ch. Pl. 19, 45; Litt. s. 28; Chit. Contr. 39; 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 276.
     3. To this rule there are some exceptions: she may contract, when it is for her benefit, as to save her from starvation. Chit. Contr. 40.
     4. In some cases, when coercion has been used by the husband to induce her to commit crime, she is exempted from punishment. 1 Ha1e, P. C. 516; 1 Russ. Cr. 16.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
(10) Here, the history of coverture is neither static nor monolithic, yet married women remained restricted and change was not always for the better.
We should not here invent one and impose it upon the States, despite our personal distaste for coverture provisions ..." Id.
Inasmuch as equity permits courts to rely on their own discretion and judgment, with precious little guidance from statute or precedent, courts must reckon with their impulse to "avoid resolving actual disputes over allegations of violence." (203) If coverture, chastisement, and domestic privacy justified and sheltered violence within homes, perhaps judges simply were not offended by domestic violence.
Had the Shakers joined in battling the doctrine of coverture instead of endorsing it, they might not have had to issue the internal proclamation after Eunice's triumph vowing that they would: "never more ...
Legal notions of coverture no longer govern control of property, but Dolan argues that they are crucial in shaping thinking about domestic violence.
(48.) The regime of "American apartheid," for instance, both under de jure and de facto segregation involved private threats of violence as well as state exclusions and punishments in order to secure racial hierarchy; the same is true of the status regime of coverture. Even contemporary public functions are, particularly in the present era of neoliberalism, often contracted to private organizations and institutions.
This is especially important for women in light of historical discrimination and coverture. Women have been considered subservient to the desires and will of men in the past, and it is important to recognize women's independent desires and personhoods.
(65) Coverture further pushed naming customs towards the patrilineal.
Under this coverture approach, the alternate payee's share of the benefit is not based on the participant's accrued benefit under the plan at the date of divorce.
(4) What is more, the rules of coverture, which adhered to the biblical principal of husband and wife as one flesh represented at law by the husband, left a wife economically vulnerable.
She suggests that Bronte's Tenant of Wildfell Hall, while underscoring notions of manliness similar to those in Dickens, also provided the "foundation of the liberal feminist response to marital violence for the next three decades" in its "resistance to coverture, claim to children, [and advocacy for female] financial independence" (86).
The central feature of family common law was coverture, in which the "legal existence of the woman is suspended during marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband." Is this to be restored?