coverture

coverture
/kuv"euhr cheuhr/, n.
1. a cover or covering; shelter; concealment.
2. Law. the status of a married woman considered as under the protection and authority of her husband.
[1175-1225; ME < AF, OF. See COVERT, -URE]

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In law, the inclusion of a woman in the legal person of her husband upon marriage.

Because of coverture, married women formerly lacked the legal capacity to hold their own property or to contract on their own behalf (see contract); similarly, a husband's tax payments or jury duty "covered" his wife as well. Aspects of coverture survived well into the 20th century; the term is still used in law when dividing jointly held property in divorce proceedings.

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law
      Anglo-American common-law concept, derived from feudal Norman custom, that dictated a woman's subordinate legal status during marriage. Prior to marriage a woman could freely execute a will, enter into contracts, sue or be sued in her own name, and sell or give away her real estate or personal property as she wished. Once she married, however, her legal existence as an individual was suspended under “marital unity,” a legal fiction in which the husband and wife were considered a single entity: the husband. The husband exercised almost exclusive power and responsibility and rarely had to consult his wife to make decisions about property matters. Coverture rendered a woman unable to sue or be sued on her own behalf or to execute a will without her husband's consent and, unless some prior specific provision separating a woman's property from her husband's had been made, stripped a woman of control over real and personal property. Coverture was disassembled in the United States through legislation at the state level beginning in Mississippi in 1839 and continuing into the 1880s. The legal status of married women was a major issue in the struggle for woman suffrage.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • coverture — cov·er·ture / kə vər ˌchu̇r, chər/ n [Anglo French, literally, shelter, covering, from Old French, from covert, past participle of covrir to cover]: the inclusion of a woman in the legal person of her husband upon marriage under common law ◇… …   Law dictionary

  • Coverture — Cov er*ture (k?v ?r t?r; 135), n. [OF. coverture,F.couverture.] 1. Covering; shelter; defense; hiding. [1913 Webster] Protected by walls or other like coverture. Woodward. [1913 Webster] Beatrice, who even now Is couched in the woodbine coverture …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • coverture — early 13c., earliest reference is to bedcovers, from O.Fr. coverture (12c.) blanket; roof; concealment, from L. *coopertura, from p.p. stem of cooperire to cover (see COVER (Cf. cover)). Most modern senses had evolved by mid 15c …   Etymology dictionary

  • coverture — [kuv′ər chər] n. [OFr < LL * coopertura < L: see COVER] 1. a covering 2. a refuge 3. a concealment or disguise 4. Law the status of a married woman …   English World dictionary

  • Coverture — Family law Entering into marriag …   Wikipedia

  • Coverture — La coverture était une doctrine juridique selon laquelle la personnalité juridique d une femme était suspendue au moment de son mariage et se fondait avec celle de son époux. Elle abandonnait alors le statut de feme sole pour celui de feme covert …   Wikipédia en Français

  • coverture — noun a) A common law doctrine developed in England during the Middle Ages, whereby a womans legal existence, upon marriage, was subsumed by that of her husband, particularly with regard to ownership of property and protection. sanz coverture fu… …   Wiktionary

  • coverture — /kavartyar/ The condition or state of a married woman. Sometimes used elliptically to describe the legal disability which formerly existed at common law from a state of coverture whereby the wife could not own property free from the husband s… …   Black's law dictionary

  • coverture — /kavartyar/ The condition or state of a married woman. Sometimes used elliptically to describe the legal disability which formerly existed at common law from a state of coverture whereby the wife could not own property free from the husband s… …   Black's law dictionary

  • coverture — noun Date: 13th century 1. a. covering b. shelter 2. the status a woman acquires upon marriage under common law …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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