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The Legal Status of Women
in the
United States of America
REPORT FOR

PENNSYLVANIA
as of January 1, 1965

i




Women’s Bureau Bulletin 157-37 (Revised)

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary
WOMEN’S BUREAU
Mary Dublin Keyserling, Director

The report for Pennsylvania was prepared by Kermitt E.
Wheeler and reviewed by Laura Lee Spencer, under the general
direction of Alice A. Morrison, Chief, Division of Legislation and
Standards, Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor.

U.S, GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON • 1965

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C., 20402 - Price 15 cents




Contents
Pag*

Introduction
Civil rights
Contracts and property
1. Age of majority
2. Contractual powers of a minor
3. Property exemptions from seizure for debt_____________________
A. Respective rights of man and woman__________________
B. Homesteads
4. Ownership and control of property owned at marriage__________
5. Contractual powers of a married woman______________________
6. Earnings of a married woman
7. Liability for family support
8. Right of a married woman to engage in a separate business_____
9. Rights of a married woman with respect to separate property___
10. Property acquired by joint efforts of husband and wife_________
11. Damages for injury to person, property, or character___________
12. Damages for injury by spouse to person or property____________
13. Competency of husband or wife to testify for or against each other.
14. Right to dispose of separate property by will__________________
15. Inheritance rights in deceased spouse’s estate____________________
16. Provision for survivors during administration of estate____________
17. Right of husband or wife to disinherit the other by will------------Marriage and divorce
18. Age of consent to marriage
11
19. Common-law marriage
12
20. Premarital requirements
12
21. Interstate cooperation in marriage-law enforcement________
22. Annulment
13
23. Divorce
13
Parents and children
15
24. Parents’ right to services and earnings of a minor child_________
25. Guardianship of a minor child
15
26. Appointment of testamentary guardian for a minor child_______
27. Inheritance—child
16
28. Child born out of wedlock
16
29. Inheritance—child born out of wedlock
17
Political rights
17
30. Domicile of a married woman
17
31. Public office—eligibility of women
17
32. Jury service—-eligibility of women
17




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The Legal Status of Women in the
United States of America
INTRODUCTION

Any conclusion bearing on woman’s status under the laws of the
United States of America must take into account the common law, on
which the fabric of the Nation’s jurisprudence is woven.
The common-law rules of property sprang from various causes,
notably tradition, military or economic exigency, and “natural male
dominance.” Economic and social advances in the position of women
in the United States have brought about marked changes in the laws
governing property and family rights and political status.
In general, it has been the rule that in the absence of a specific statute
abrogating common-law principles, the common law applies. In the
century past, many old common-law injustices to women have been
removed by statute.
Material considered in Women’s Bureau Bulletin 157 series centers
largely around women in the marriage relation, since the legal status
of the unmarried woman is practically identical with that of the un­
married man. To increase the usefulness of the material, more at­
tention has been given in the current revision to differences in the
legal treatment of men and women.
The United States Summary of the Legal Status of Women in the
United States of America, Bulletin 157, last brought up to date as of
January 1, 1958, is being revised. The revised Summary will be
compiled from the reports for the 50 States and the District of
Columbia.
The President’s Commission on the Status of Women (established
December 14,1961, by Executive Order 10980) appointed a Commit­
tee on Civil and Political Rights to review the civil and political rights
of women. The Commission’s report, submitted in October 1963,
presents findings and makes recommendations for constructive action.
A considerable number of States, including Pennsylvania, already
have established Governors’ Commissions on the Status of Women to
implement the recommendations made in the report of the President’s
Commission.




l

Sources

Punion's Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated
Pennsylvania District Reports
Pennsylvania District and County Reports
Pennsylvania District and County Reports (Second Series)
Pennsylvania State Reports
Pennsylvania Superior Court Reports
Atlantic Reporter
Atlantic Reporter (Second Series)
Explanatory Note

Bulletin 157-37 presents a digest of the State constitutional and
statutory provisions affecting the legal status of women in Pennsyl­
vania. It includes pertinent statutory changes enacted in that State
up to January 1, 1965, and supersedes the previous report for Penn­
sylvania of January 1, 1957.
References to the code sections are indicated by parenthetical in­
sertions of title and section numbers, as “(T. 48, sec. 34).”
Case citations definitely construing statutes or declaring judicial
policy in the absence of express statutory provision are indicated by
footnote references. Abbreviations used are:
Pennsylvania District Reports—Pa. Dist. Rpts.
Pennsylvania District and County Reports—D. & C.
Pennsylvania District and County Reports (Second Series)—D. & C.
(2d)
Pennsylvania State Reports—Pa.
Pennsylvania Superior Court Reports—Pa. Super. Ct.
Atlantic Reporter—Atl.
Atlantic Reporter (Second Series)—A. (2d)
Numbered subject headings are the same as those in the Summary.
Cross-references employ these numbers for brevity, as “ (See number
6.),’ which refers to the subject heading “Earnings of a married
woman.”




PENNSYLVANIA
CIVIL RIGHTS
Contracts and Property

1. Age of majority

The age of majority for both men and women is 21 years (T. 46,
sec. 601(65)).
.
2. Contractual powers of a minor

A minor is not competent to contract. Generally, he may bind him­
self for his food, apparel, necessary physic and other necessaries, and
for his good teaching or instruction.1
Minors 18 years of age or over may make insurance contracts and
are given full powers in relation to them as if 21 years of age (T. 40,
sec. 572).
A minor may open and maintain a bank account in his own name
with the same rights and privileges as if he were of full age, and may
make withdrawals without the assent of his parent or guardian (T. 7,
sec. 819—902a).
A married minor 17 years of age or older may execute a valid con­
veyance of real estate with his or her adult spouse (T. 21, sec. 51).
A married minor 17 years of age or older may execute a deed of
conveyance or mortgage of real estate with his or her adult spouse
(T. 21, sec. 57).
A minor cannot bind himself even for necessaries when he has a
guardian or parent to supply his wants; likewise a minor wife cannot
bind herself for shelter and lodgings when she has a spouse under
legal duty to supply them for her.2
3. Property exemptions from seizure for debt
A. Respective Rights

of

Man and Woman

Property to the value of $300, in addition to all wearing apparel
of the debtor and his family and Bibles and schoolbooks in use in the
family, is exempt from levy and sale on execution (T. 12, sec. 2161).
1 In re O’Leary’s Estate (1945), 352 Pa. 254; 42 A. (2d) 624.
2 Bixler V. Addir (1960), 22 D. & C. (2d) 732.




3

THE LEGAL STATUS OE WOMEN

A debtor includes a wife as well as her husband; both spouses are
entitled to the exemption to the extent of $300 in their respective
estates against an execution levied under their joint debt.3
Sewing machines belonging to seamstresses or to private families
are exempt from levy and sale on execution (T. 12, secs. 2167-2168).
Income or return not exceeding $100 per month from an insurance
or annuity contract is exempt to the beneficiary or annuitant (T. 40,
sec. 515).
The net proceeds of any life insurance policy or annuity contract
accruing to the benefit of the wife, children, or dependent relative of
the insured person are exempt from all claims of creditors of the in­
sured (T. 40, sec. 517).
The net proceeds payable to the insured or to any beneficiary under
contracts of accident or disability insurance or under accident or dis­
ability clauses attached to life insurance contracts are exempt from
the claims of creditors and seizure under any legal process (T. 40,
sec. 766).
B. Homesteads

There is no statutory provision for a homestead exemption. The
freeholder of an estate in fee simple (a person who has title to real
property) may be entitled to a stay of execution against certain judg­
ments up to $500 and under certain prescribed conditions (T. 12, sec.
2201). The remedy is available without distinction between men and
women.
4. Ownership and control of property owned at marriage
All property owned by a woman at the time of her marriage con­
tinues to be her separate property after marriage. Such property is
not liable for the debts of her husband (T. 48, sec. 64).
5. Contractual powers of a married woman
A married woman has the same right and power as a married man
to acquire, own, possess, control, use, convey, lease, or mortgage any
property of any kind, real, personal, or mixed, either in possession or
expectancy, or make any contract, in writing or otherwise; she may
exercise such right and power in the same manner and to the same ex­
tent as a married man (T. 48, sec. 32.1).
Property conveyed by one spouse without the joinder of the other
is subject to the spouse’s intestacy share (T. 20, sec. 1.5). (See number
15.)
■
A wife declared a feme sole trader (a married woman who engages
in business on her own account) because of desertion or nonsupport
3 Friday v. Glasser (1900), 14 Pa. Super. Ct. 94.
4




PENNSYLVANIA

may convey her property without the joinder of her husband (T. 48,
secs. 42, 44).
No female shall be arrested or imprisoned by reason of any debt
(T. 12, sec. 255).
A conveyance of real estate to a husband and wife creates a tenancy
by the entirety unless a contrary intention is shown.4 5 (For defini­
tion of tenancy see number 10.)
Either spouse surviving the other may draw a deposit made by
them jointly during the marriage in any banking institution (T. 7,
sec. 819—903).
A contract of a married woman for the purchase of a sewing ma­
chine for her own use is valid and binding without her husband’s
joining in the contract (T. 48, sec. 33).
A married woman owning loans of the State or of the city of Phila­
delphia, or any of the loans, or a share or shares, of the capital stock
of any corporation created by or under the laws of Pennsylvania, may
sell or transfer them as if she were unmarried (T. 48, sec. 36).
Women, married or single, may serve as officers, directors, or trustees
of an incorporated institution (T. 7, sec. 819-514). A married woman
may legally make conveyances of real estate to her husband or her hus­
band and herself jointly as if she were unmarried (T. 48, sec. 71).
A wife may lend money to her husband out of her separate estate
and may take security in the form of a judgment or mortgage against
his estate in the name of a third person as trustee (T. 48, sec. 70).
No assignment of, or order for, wages or salary to be earned made
by a married man to secure a loan is valid unless the written consent
of his wife is attached thereto (T. 43, sec. 274).
A married woman may sue and be sued civilly, in all respects, and
in any form of action, and with the same effect and results and conse­
quences as an unmarried person, except that she may sue her husband
only as prescribed (T. 48, sec. 111). (See number 12.)
A wife who has been deserted, abandoned, or driven from her home
by her husband may sue her husband or any other person in any court
in her own name, or may assign, transfer, or endorse over to any person
or persons any evidence of indebtedness against her husband or others
as if unmarried (T. 48, sec. 115).
. If a married woman claims to have advanced the purchase money
for land, the legal title of which is in her husband, she may bring an
action of ejectment against him for the land (T. 21, sec. 602).
t In re Vandergrift’s Estate (1932) , 105 Ta. Super. Ct. 293 ; 101 Atl. 898.
B Newhard V. Newhan1 (1931), 303 Pa. 299 ; 154 Atl. 500.

702-104—0!




&

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THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

6. Earnings of a married woman

The separate earnings of any married woman, whether they are
wages for labor, salary, or income from property, belong to her and
are under her control independently of her husband. They are not
subject to any legal claim either of the husband or of his creditors
(T. 48, sec. 34).
7. Liability for family support

In all cases where debts may be contracted for necessaries for the
support and maintenance of the family of any married woman, the
creditor may sue both husband and wife for the purchase price of the
necessaries, and upon judgment rendered has right of execution first
against the husband’s property, and if there is no such property, then
against the separate property of the wife. Judgment may not be ren­
dered against the wife unless it is proved that she contracted the debt
and that it was incurred for articles necessary for the support of the
family (T. 48, sec. 116).
Action may be brought at law or in equity against a husband for
maintenance of his wife and children if he has separated himself and,
being of sufficient ability, has neglected or refused to provide suitable
maintenance for them (T. 48, sec. 131).
Whenever a man has separated from his wife or children without
reasonable cause, or when his whereabouts are unknown, and he has
sufficient ability but has neglected or refused to provide suitable
maintenance for them, proceedings may be had against his real or per­
sonal property to provide maintenance for them (T. 48, sec. 132).
Any husband or father who separates himself from his wife or
children without reasonable cause or willfully neglects to maintain
them, and such wife or children are destitute, or are dependent wholly
or in part on their earnings for adequate support, is guilty of a mis­
demeanor, and is subject to fine and/or imprisonment (T. 18, sec.
4731).
Where a deserted wife has used her separate estate to discharge an
obligation resting primarily on her husband, the law imposes a quasieontractual relationship to reimburse the deserted wife for expendi­
tures from her separate estate used to provide herself with support in
a manner in keeping with the husband’s financial circumstances and
earning power.6
Relief law

Every husband, wife, child (except a child of a parent who aban­
doned or persisted in abandonment for a period of 10 years during
child’s minority), father, and mother of an indigent person, whether
» Adler v. Adler (1952), 179 Pa. Super. Ct. 506 ; 90 A. (2d) 389.

6




PENNSYLVANIA

a public charge or not, shall, if of sufficient financial ability, care for
and maintain, or financially assist, such indigent person at a rate which
the court shall direct. Every person who willfully neglects or refuses
to comply with the court’s order may be committed to the county jail
for a period not exceeding 6 months (T. 62, sec. 1973).
Conduct on the part of a wife which would supply the husband with
valid grounds for divorce will justify the husband in refusing to
support the wife.7
8. Right of a married woman to engage in a separate business

In order to protect her earnings and profits as her own separate
property, the statute requires a married woman to present her petition,
under oath or affirmation, to the court of common pleas having juris­
diction over her residence, stating her intention to claim her earnings
and profits separately. The court then directs her petition to be placed
on record, making it conclusive evidence of her right to claim and
receive such earnings and profits (T. 48, secs. 34-35).
A married woman may be declared a feme sole trader if her husband
is an absent mariner or has deserted her, of if she is living apart from
her husband, by presenting her petition to the court of common pleas,
setting forth, under affidavit, the facts which authorize her action. If
a decree is granted, the wife’s property is subject to her free and
absolute disposal during life and her husband loses his intestacy right
(T. 48, secs. 41-44). (See number 15.)
9. Rights of a married woman with respect to separate property

All property owned by a single woman continues to be her property
as fully after her marriage as before; and all such property accruing
to any woman during marriage, by will, descent, deed of conveyance,
or otherwise, is to be owned, used, and enjoyed by her as her own
separate property. Such property, whether owned by her before mar­
riage or accruing to her afterward, is not subject to levy and execution
for the debts or liabilities of her husband, nor can it be sold, conveyed,
mortgaged, transferred, or in any manner encumbered by her husband
without her written consent duly acknowledged before a judge of
common pleas, stating that such consent was not the result of coercion
but voluntarily given and of her own free will (T. 48, sec. 64).
(See number 5 for right to convey property.)
10. Property acquired by joint efforts of husband and wife

There is no statutory provision for community of interest between
the spouses in property acquired after marriage by their cooperative
efforts. Such property belongs to the husband by rule of common law,
7 Beery v. Beery (1957), 183 Pa. Super. Ct. 322 ; 131 A. (2d) 845.




7

THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

unless a joint ownership has been created by private arrangement, such
as joint deed, joint bank account, and the like. A husband and wife
may hold property as tenants by the entirety, tenants in common, and
joint tenants.® 8 (Tenancy by the entirety—property held by con­
9
veyance to husband and wife where each possesses the whole estate
with right of survivorship. Tenancy in common—property held by
several and distinct titles with unity of possession, neither party know­
ing his own severally; it is not limited to husband and wife. Joint
tenancy—all interest held the same. There is unity of conveyance,
time, place, and possession with right of survivorship attached; it
is not limited to husband and wife.)
11. Damages for injury to person, property, or character

A married woman is given full power to sue in any civil action as
if unmarried, except that suit against her husband must be as speci­
fied (T. 48, sec. Ill). (See number 12.) Under this statute, any suit
for damages arising from torts done to her is brought in her name
alone, and any amount recovered becomes her separate property. The
husband’s right based on such a tort is that given him at common law
to be compensated for the loss of his wife’s services.10 * *
Actions for alienation of affections of husband or wife are abolished
except in cases where the defendant is a parent, brother, sister, or a
person in loco parentis to the plaintiff’s spouse (T. 48, sec. 170).
This act does not abolish actions for criminal conversation. The
common-law right of action in trespass for damages for criminal con­
versation has not been abolished in Pennsylvania.1112
All causes of action for breach of promise to marry are abolished
(T. 48, sec. 171).
12. Damages for injury by spouse to person or property

Husband and wife may not sue each other in any civil action, ex­
cept in a divorce proceeding or in an action by one to recover his oi­
lier separate property from the other. The wife may not be arrested
or imprisoned for her torts (T. 48, sec. 111).
Reasonable interpretation of the Married Women’s Property Act
necessarily permits an action in equity by one spouse against the other
to protect as separate property his or her interest therein held by them
as tenants by the entirety and from possession of which the complain­
ing spouse is wrongfully excluded.13
8 In re Kleinachmidt’s Estate (1949), 362 Pa. 353 ; 67 A. (2d) 117.
» mease V. Anderson (1913), 241 Pa. 198 ; 88 Atl. 365.
30 Walker V. Philadelphia (1900), 195 Pa. 168 ; 45 Atl. 657.
33 Grove V. Widney (1950), 68 D. & C. 541.
32 Baldridge v. Matthews (1954), 378 Pa. 566 ; 106 A. (2d) 809.
13Lindenfelser v. Lindenfelser (1956), 383 Pa. 424 ; 119 A. (2d) 87.

8




PENNSYLVANIA

A wife deserted, abandoned, or driven from home by her husband
may bring civil suit against him upon any cause of action as if she
were unmarried, and she is a competent witness against her husband;
but such act does not destroy the right of survivorship in any land
conveyed jointly to husband and wife (T. 48, sec. 114).
A wife may recover damages from her husband for an assault and
battery committed upon her person by him after he has deserted or
abandoned her or driven her from their common home.14 She may
maintain an action against her husband for personal injuries sustained
by her through his negligence.15
13. Competency of husband or wife to testify for or against each
other

Husband and wife are incompetent to testify against each other, or
in support of a criminal charge of adultery alleged to have been
committed by or with the other, except in proceedings for desertion or
maintenance, and in any other criminal proceeding enumerated in the
statute where bodily injury or violence is attempted (T. 19, sec. 683).
Neither spouse is competent to testify against the other in a civil
proceeding, except in one brought by a wife to be declared a feme sole
trader, or in certain divorce actions (T. 28, sec. 317). However, the
wife may testify in rebuttal when put on the defensive as to her
conduct or character in civil actions brought against the husband for
necessaries furnished to the wife (T. 28, sec. 318). Either husband
or wife is competent to testify against the other in rebuttal when his
or her character or conduct is attacked in a civil action brought by the
other spouse (T. 28, sec. 319).
(See also number 12.)
Neither spouse may testify as to any confidential communication
between them, in either criminal or civil suits, unless this privilege is
waived upon the trial (T. 19, sec. 684; T. 28, sec. 316).
Husband and wife are competent witnesses in actions against the
husband for maintenance for the wife and children, or when the hus­
band is tried for nonsupport (T. 48, sec. 131; T. 18, sec. 4731).
In any action by either spouse to protect or recover the separate
property of either, both are competent witnesses except as to confi­
dential communications, which privilege may be waived (T. 28, sec.
320).
14. Right to dispose of separate property by will

Every person of sound mind and of the age of 21 years or older may
dispose by will of his real and personal estate, subject to payment of
14 Candidi V. Candidi (1954), 87 D. & C. 90.
15 Waterman v. Waterman (1954), 3 D. & C. (2d) 126.




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THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

debts and charges; and any person 18 years of age or older of sound
mind who is in active military service or is a mariner may dispose by
will of all his real and personal estate subject to payment of debts and
charges (T. 20, sec. 180.1).
If the testator marries after making a will, the surviving spouse
receives the share given by statute in intestate estates, unless the will
gives a larger share.
If the testator is divorced after making a will, all provisions in the
will in favor of or relating to his divorced spouse are ineffective
(T. 20, sec. 180.7).
The real and personal property, however acquired, of a wife who has
been declared a feme sole trader according to statute is subject to her
free and absolute disposal during life, or by will, without interference
by the husband, in cases of nonsupport by the husband for 5 or more
years, or of separation for 1 year or longer without support from him;
and if she dies without making a will, her property goes to her next
of kin as if the husband were already dead (T. 48, sec. 44).
15. Inheritance rights in deceased spouse’s estate

The widow or widower is entitled to the following share of the real
and personal estate of an intestate decedent, after payment of debts
and charges:
(a) If one child survives, or descendants of one deceased child, the
living spouse takes one-half of the estate.
(b) If more than one child, or one or more children and the descend­
ants of any deceased child or children, or the descendants of more than
one deceased child or children survive, the 1 i ving spouse takes one-third
of the estate.
(c) If no issue survive, the living spouse is entitled to the first $10,000
in value and one-half of the balance of the estate.
(d) If no issue, parent, brother, sister, child of a brother or sister,
grandparent, uncle, or aunt survives, the living spouse is entitled to
all of the estate (T. 20, sec. 1.2).
A husband who for 1 year or more prior to the death of his wife
has willfully neglected or refused to provide for her, or a husband or
wife who for 1 year or more prior to the death of the other has willfully
and maliciously deserted such spouse, loses the right to claim any title
or interest in the real or personal estate of the deserted spouse (T. 20,
sec. 1.6).
The share of real estate to which the widow or widower is entitled
covers both the property the decedent owned at time of death and any
property which he or she may have conveyed without the surviving
spouse’s signature (T. 20, sec. 1.5).
to



PENNSYLVANIA

16. Provision for survivors during administration of estate

The surviving spouse or specified family members may be paid
wages, salary, or any accrued vacation benefits or pension due a dece­
dent up to $1,000 (T. 20, sec. 320.201).
The spouse of any decedent domiciled in this State, or if no spouse,
or if the spouse has forfeited his right, then specified family members,
may retain or claim as an exemption real or personal property to the
value of $1,000 (T. 20, sec. 320.211).
Small estates of a gross value of $2,500 or less can be settled without
administration (T. 20, sec. 320.202).
17. Right of husband or wife to disinherit the other by will

A surviving spouse may elect to take against the provisions of a de­
cedent’s will. Upon such an election the surviving spouse is entitled to
one-third of the real and personal estate of the testator, if children or
their descendants survive. If only one child and his descendants or
other heirs survive, the spouse is entitled to one-half of the real and
personal estate (T. 20, sec. 180.8). The right of election may be for­
feited through desertion by the survivor for 1 year prior to the dece­
dent’s death or if the survivor has participated as a principal or
accessory in the wrongful slaying of the other (T. 20, sec. 180.9).
A conveyance of assets by a person who retains a power of control
over such assets, as specified in the statute, is treated as a testamentary
disposition at the election of the surviving spouse, and as such the
spouse may elect to take against it. This, however, does not defeat
the rights of any income beneficiary whose interest became vested be­
fore the death of the one making the conveyance. A spouse electing
under this section must also elect to take against the will and against
all other conveyances of which he is a beneficiary under terms of this
section (T. 20, sec. 301.11).
Marriage and Divorce

18. Age of consent to marriage

Persons under 21 years of age must have the consent of parents or
guardians, in person or in writing properly certified and witnessed,
before a marriage license may be issued. Both male and female ap­
plicants must be 16 years of age before a license may be issued. In
special cases the court may authorize the issuance of a license when one
or both parties are under age 16 if it is in their best interests (T. 48,
sec. 1—5).




11

THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

19. Common-law marriage
Common-law marriages are recognized, but it should plainly appear
that there was an actual agreement entered into to form a legal rela­
tion of husband and wife.16
The marriage law of 1953, which repealed or changed the law relat­
ing to marriage, is not in any way to be construed to change the exist­
ing law with regard to common-law marriage (T. 48, sec. 1—23).
20. Premarital requirements
Each applicant for license to marry must submit a physician’s state­
ment showing that an examination, including the standard serological
test, has been given within the 30 days preceding issuance of license,
to determine whether syphilis is present, and, if present, whether the
disease is in a communicable stage or is likely to become communicable
(T. 48, sec. 1—5).
No license to marry may be issued: (a) if either applicant is weakminded, insane, or of unsound mind; (b) if either applicant has been,
within 5 years preceding application, an inmate of an institution for
weakminded or insane persons, unless the court determines that it is
to the best interest of the applicant and the general public to issue the
license; (c) if either applicant is or has been, within 5 years preceding
application, an inmate of an institution for indigent persons, unless
the court determines that the applicant is no longer indigent, and if
a male, that he is able to support a family; (d) if either applicant
is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotic drugs; (e)
to a person divorced by a former spouse on grounds of adultery, for
the marriage of such person to the person with whom adultery was
committed, during the lifetime of the former spouse; (f) to applicants
within prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity (T. 48, sec.
1-5).
No license to marry shall be issued until or after the third day fol­
lowing the making of application, except in emergencies or extraordi­
nary circumstances authorized by the court (T. 48, sec. 1—4).
21. Interstate cooperation in marriage-law enforcement

While following the general rule that a marriage valid by the law
of the place where it is solemnized is valid everywhere, the State ex­
cepts any particular marriage contracted elsewhere that is contrary
to'good morals, public policy, or the positive statutes of the jurisdic­
tion where the rule is sought to be enforced. This is especially true
where the parties to the marriage, citizens of this State, go to another
18 In re Stauffer’s Estate (1953), 372 Pa. 537; 94 A. (2d) 726.

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State for the express purpose of evading a statutory prohibition of
their own domicile.17
22. Annulment
Where a supposed marriage has been contracted though absolutely
void under the law when contracted, either party may make applica­
tion for, and be granted, a decree declaring such attempted marriage
null and void, as provided by statute (T. 23, sec. 12).
A court having jurisdiction of a divorce action is empowered to de­
termine the case as law and justice may require, by either dismissing
the proceeding, granting absolute or limited divorce, or decreeing an
annulment of the marriage (T. 23, sec. 55).
If a person, during the lifetime of a spouse with whom a marriage
is in force, enters into a subsequent marriage, and the parties live to­
gether as husband and wTife, and such subsequent marriage was en­
tered into by one or both parties in good faith, believing the former
spouse was dead or that the marriage had been dissolved or without
knowledge of such former marriage, they shall—after the impediment
to their marriage is removed by death of the other party to the former
marriage, or by an annulment or divorce—if they continue to live to­
gether as husband and wife in good faith on the part of one of them,
be held to have been legally married from the time of such annulment,
divorce, or death (T. 48, sec. 1—17).
When the spouse of an applicant for marriage license has disap­
peared, or is absent from his place of residence without being heard
of after diligent inquiry, an orphans’ court judge, aided by the report
of a master if necessary, upon petition of the applicant for marriage
license, may make a finding and decree that the absentee is dead and
the date of his death, provided that other provisions in the statute
are complied with (T. 48, sec. 1—8).
Marriages within prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity
are voidable, but when any such marriage has not been dissolved dur­
ing the lifetime of the parties, the unlawfulness of the same shall not
be inquired into after the death of either of the parties (T. 48, sec.
1—16).
23. Divorce
An absolute divorce may be granted the innocent and injured spouse
on any of the following grounds: (a) impotency or incapability of
procreation existing at the time of the marriage and thereafter; (b)
bigamy or subsisting prior marriage; (c) adultery; (d) willful and
malicious desertion and absence from marital abode without a reason­
« In re Stall’s Estate (1898), 183 Pa. 625 ; 39 Atl. 16.




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THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

able cause for 2 years; (e) cruel and barbarous treatment endanger­
ing the life of the other; (f) indignities of the person of the other
rendering conditions intolerable and life burdensome; (g) uncondoned
fraud, force, or coercion in procuring the marriage; (h) conviction
of certain listed crimes and a sentence to imprisonment for 2 years
or more. A divorce may also be granted: to either party to a marriage
between two parties within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity
or affinity; to the party who has not remarried, if the other has mar­
ried again on false rumor of such spouse’s death after 2 years’ absence
(T. 23, sec. 10).
A divorce from bed and board may be granted the wife when her
husband has: (a) maliciously abandoned his family; (b) maliciously
turned his wife out of doors; (c) endangered her life by cruel and
barbarous treatment; (d) offered such indignities to her person as to
render her condition intolerable and life burdensome; (e) committed
adultery (T. 23, sec. 11).
A husband or wife who is guilty of the crime of adultery may not,
during the lifetime of the former spouse, marry the person with whom
the crime was committed (T. 48, sec. 169).
A divorced woman may resume her maiden or other prior name if
she files written notice of such intention with the court (T. 23, sec. 98).
On divorce, husband and wife holding property as tenants by the
entirety shall thereafter hold such property as tenants in common of
equal one-half shares in value (T. 68, sec. 501).
Whenever a divorce from bed and board is granted a married
woman, she may encumber, grant, convey, or dispose of real estate as
if she were a feme sole without her husband’s joining in the convey­
ance (T. 48, sec. 117a). On divorce, either spouse may convey to the
other, without joinder of the other, his or her interest in real estate
owned as tenants by the entirety, so that the grantee shall hold the
same free from all right, title, and interest which the grantor had
(T. 21, sec. 52.1).
Alimony and maintenance

In case of absolute or limited divorce, the court may allow the wife
reasonable alimony pending the suit and counsel fees and expenses
(T. 23, sec. 46).
In case of limited divorce, the court may allow a wife such alimony
as her husband’s circumstances will permit, not to exceed one-third of
the annual profit or income from his estate or from his occupation and
labor, which allowance shall continue until a reconciliation takes
place. The court has the discretion to suspend the alimony in case the
wife refuses to return and cohabit under the protection of the court
(T. 23, sec. 47).
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Alimony referred to under the statute is for support of the wife
alone and is in addition to the obligation of a father to support his
minor children.18
The statute makes no provision for alimony in a permanent divorce
action.19
On application of a husband for divorce from an insane wife, the
court has power to decree alimony for the support of such insane wife
during the term of her natural life, by requiring him to file a bond
with sureties if necessary, before granting the divorce.
If the wife is the petitioner and has sufficient means, the court may
provide for the support of her insane husband in the same manner, if
he has not sufficient estate in his own right for his support (T. 23,
sec. 45).
Parents and Children

24. Parents’ right to services and earnings of a minor child

The mother of a minor child who contributes by the fruits of her
own labor or otherwise toward its support, maintenance, and educa­
tion has the same and equal power, control, and authority over the
child and the same and equal right to its services and earnings as the
father possesses, if she is otherwise qualified as a fit and proper person
to have control and custody of the child. Upon desertion by one parent,
the services and earnings of the child belong to the other, if qualified
otherwise. The parents may sue together to recover for injuries to
their minor child, or either may sue in the name of both (T. 48, sec. 91).
25. Guardianship of a minor child

The mother of a minor child who contributes to its support, mainte­
nance, and education has equal right with the father as to the natural
guardianship of the child, that is, to its control and custody (T. 48,
sec. 91).
A parent of a minor cannot be appointed as guardian of the minor’s
estate, except that he may be appointed coguardian with another
fiduciary or fiduciaries (T. 20, sec. 320.1012).
A person under 21 years of age cannot be appointed as guardian of
a minor’s estate (T. 20, sec. 320.1012).
A person of the same religious persuasion as the parents of a minor
shall be preferred as guardian of his person. A person nominated by
a minor over 14 years of age, if found by the court to be qualified and
suited, shall be preferred as guardian of his person and estate (T. 20,
sec. 320.1013).
13 Marra v. Alarm (1952), 170 Pa. Super. Ct. 588 ; 88 A. (2d) 112.
“ Hooka v. Hooks (1936), 123 Pa. Super. Ct. 507 ; 187 Atl. 245.




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THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

A guardian of the estate of a minor is not necessary if the net value
of his real and personal property is $2,500 or less (T. 20, sec. 320.1001).
26. Appointment of testamentary guardian for a minor child

Any person may appoint by will a testamentary guardian for the
real or personal estate left by him to a minor child, when such property
is devised, bequeathed, or appointed to the minor in that person’s will
or descends from that person to the minor by intestacy or as otherwise
specified.
A sole surviving parent or adopting parent of an unmarried minor
child may appoint a testamentary guardian of the person of such
child during his minority, or for a shorter period, provided that no
father who, for 1 year or more previous to his death, has willfully
neglected or refused to provide for his child, and no mother who, for a
like period, has deserted her child or willfully failed to perform her
parental duties, shall have the right to appoint a testamentary guard­
ian of the person of such child (T. 20, sec. 180.18).
27. Inheritance—child

Parents inherit from a child as follows:
If no issue survive, the share of a decedent’s estate, if any, to which
the surviving spouse is not entitled, or the entire estate if there is no
surviving spouse, descends to the parents or parent of the decedent
(T. 20, sec. 1.3).
28. Child born out of wedlock
Any parent, within or without the State, who willfully neglects or
refuses to contribute reasonably to the support and maintenance of a
child born out of lawful wedlock is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon
conviction is subject to fine or imprisonment or both, with or without
hard labor, in the court’s discretion. Before the trial, however, with
the consent of the defendant indorsed on the bill of indictment, on
entry of a plea of guilty or after conviction, the court, considering the
circumstances and financial capacity of the defendant, may issue an
order for periodic payments. The court shall have power to suspend
the sentence and release the defendant from custody or probation,
provided that the defendant has entered recognizance in such sum,
with or without surety, as the court directs (T. 18, sec. 4732).
When the parents of a child born out of wedlock have married each
other, the child is legitimated (T. 20, sec. 1.7).
In all cases where a supposed or alleged marriage is contracted, and
found to be void or voidable, the children born to such a marriage
shall be deemed the legitimate children of both parties for all purposes
(T. 48, sec. 169.1).
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29. Inheritance—child horn out of wedlock

For purposes of descent by, from, and through an illegitimate child,
he shall be considered the child of his mother but not of his father.
If the parents of an illegitimate child have married each other, he is
legitimated for purposes of descent by, from, and through him as if
he had been born in lawful wedlock (T. 20, secs. 1.7, 180.14, 301.14).
The mother and maternal kindred inherit from an illegitimate
child as if the child had been born in lawful wedlock (T. 20, sec. 1.7).
POLITICAL RIGHTS
30. Domicile of a married woman

The husband’s domicile determines that of his wife.20
A wife may acquire separate domicile for purposes of divorce.21
A wife may acquire a separate domicile when she is separated from
her husband for cause.22
31. Public office—eligibility of women

In the absence of any constitutional or statutory provision specifi­
cally disqualifying women from holding public office, they are eligible
on the same basis as men. Any common-law rule to the contrary is
abrogated.23
32. Jury service—eligibility of women

Women are eligible for jury service upon the same terms as men
(T. 17, secs. 1333,1338).
20 In re Nicholl’s Guardian (1925), 86 Pa. Super. Ct. 38.
21Betz v. Bets (1931), 103 Pa. Super. Ct. 306; 157 Atl. 359.
22 Harrison v. Harrison et al. (1932), 163 Atl. 62.
23 Op. Atty. Gen. (1920), 30 Pa. Dlst. Hpts. 268.




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