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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.


noun condition of a married woman, conjugality, legal status of a married woman, living as man and wife, marriage lines, married state, married tie, matronage, matronhood, matronship, nuptial bond, state of a married woman, state of matrimony, union, wedded state, wifedom
See also: cohabitation, cover, protection, refuge, shelter, shield


formerly, the condition or status of a married woman considered as being under the protection and influence of her husband.

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.

References in periodicals archive ?
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.
The addition of the coverture fraction to this analysis does not make the "primary purpose test" obsolete.
100) Beginning with the Jamestown colony, the traditional rules of coverture were relaxed.
To call her subject Catherine Hogarth, then, is to challenge coverture.
The logical starting point for a work about the attack on coverture, however, is not 1850, which is a date of no significance to the subject.
265) Kanowitz, supra note 254, at 40; see Chused, supra note 264, at 1361 (stating that Married Women's Property Acts "made only modest adjustments in coverture law, and that these adjustments generally confirmed rather than confronted prevailing domestic roles of married women").
She identifies the linchpins of late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century patriarchy as the doctrine of coverture in common law, primogeniture with male entail, arranged marriages, limitations of widows' property rights, and a misogynistic ideology based on classical philosophy, Christian theology, and early modern science.
Act 175 established a coverture fraction to apply to benefit retirement plans with deferred distribution and those being distributed by immediate offset.
Beginning as early as the thirteenth century, a set of parallel rules developed in courts of equity to relieve women of some of the disadvantages of coverture.
Readers may find it useful to begin with Margreta de Grazia's afterword, which analyzes coverture in relation to the concept of the individual.
A century later, these formal legal dependency relationships for adult women have by and large disappeared, though not the vestiges of coverture and discrimination in labor markets and social institutions.
In these cases, the property should be awarded to that spouse, as if the tenancy were created solely for survivorship purposes during coverture, in the absence of contradictory evidence that a gift was intended.