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M3.3:
The Legal Status of Women
in the
United States of America

REPORT FOR

VIRGINIA
as of January 1, 1957

U_ ^Women’s Bureau Bulletin 157-45 (Revised)




UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
James P. Mitchell, Secretary
WOMEN’S BUREAU

Mrs. Alice K. Leopold, Director

The report for Virginia was prepared by Laura H. Dale
with the assistance of Laura H. Harris, under the general direc­
tion of Alice A. Morrison of the Division of Women’s Labor
Law and Civil and Political Status of the Women’s Bureau,
U. S. Department of Labor.

UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1057

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office
Washington 25, D. C. - Price 10 cents




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Contents




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Page
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w w to to

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_____________________
19. Common-law marriage_______________
20. Premarital requirements________________________ _
21. Interstate cooperation in marriage-law enforcement_____
22. Annulment_____________________
23. Divorce______________________
Parents and children______________________
24. Parents right to services and earnings of a minor child_
_
_
25. Guardianship of a minor child________________
26. Appointment of testamentary guardian for a minor child_____
27. Inheritance—child_______________ _
28. Child born out of wedlock_____________ ,___
29. Inheritance—child born out of wedlock_______
Political rights_____________________
30. Domicile of a married woman____________
31. Public office—eligibility of women__________
32. Jury service—eligibility of women_____________

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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 genera], it has been the rule that where specific statutes abrogat­
ing common-law principles have not been enacted, the common law
applies. In the century just past, many of the old common-law
injustices to women have been removed by statute.
The material considered centers largely around the woman in the
marriage relation, since the legal status of the unmarried woman is
practically identical with that of the unmarried man.
The United States Summary of the Legal Status of Women in the
Lnited States of America, Bulletin 157, has been brought up to date
as of January 1,1953. Information in the Summary is compiled from
the reports for each of the 48 States and the District of Columbia.




Sources

Constitution of Virginia
Code of Virginia, 1950
Virginia Reports
Southeastern Reporter

Explanatory Note

This pamphlet, Bulletin 157-45, presents a digest of the Constitu­
tion and statutory provisions affecting the legal status of women in the
State of Virginia. It includes pertinent statutory changes enacted
in that State up to January 1,1957, and supersedes the previous report
and addendum for Virginia.
References to the State Constitution are indicated by parenthetical
insertions of section numbers following the abbreviation “Const.,”
as “(Const., art. II, sec. 1),” placed after the related subject matter.
References to the code sections are likewise in parentheses, as (sec.
55-12).”
,
.
*
Case citations definitely construing statutes or declaring judicial
policy in the absence of express statutory provision are indicated by
footnote references. Cases showing historical development of a
statute or policy are followed by the abbreviation “hist.”
Numbered subject headings are the same as those used in the Sum­
mary. Cross references employ these numbers for brevity, as “See
number 6,” which refers to the subject heading “Earnings of a married
woman.”
VI




VIRGINIA
CIVIL RIGHTS
Contracts and Property
1. Age of majority

The age of majority for both sexes is 21 years, as at common law,
which governs in the absence of an express statute.
2. Contractual powers of a minor

The disability of minority is removed by marriage for the purpose,
and to the extent only, that a minor husband or wife may dispose of
his or her contingent right of curtesy or dower in real estate by joining
the other spouse in the deed or contract (sec. 55-42).
If a married woman who is a minor desires to sell her separate real
estate, it is essential that such sale be in conformance with statutory
procedures (sec. 55-45). If she is entitled to any estate, she does not,
during marriage and while a minor, have control and management of
the property, but, on petition, a receiver for the purpose is appointed
by the court (sec. 55-44).
A minor who is transacting business as a trader without disclosing
his minority by the specific methods required by law is liable for his
debts to the extent of the property employed in the business
(sec. 8-135).
A minor may be appointed as a notary public when 18 years of age
or over, and is fully liable for official acts (Const., art. II, sec. 32)
(sec. 47-3).
'
A minor is not bound by an express contract to pay for necessaries
any more than their actual value, nor is he bound unless the contract
is for necessaries actually required by him.1
But as to other acts and contracts of persons under 21, the rule is
that generally they are voidable, subject to the minor’s affirmance or
repudiation at majority.2
(For capacity to make a will, see number 14.)
1 Bear’s Admx. V. Bear (1921), 131 Va. 447 ; 109 S. E. 313
3Strother v. Lynchburg Banlc (1931), 155 Va. 826, 829, 832; 156 S. E. 426.




1

THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

2

3. Property exemptions from seizure for debt
A. Respective Rights of Man and Woman

The exemptions are allowed to “every householder or head of a
family residing in this State,” or to his widow and minor children, or
either of them, after his death; or to “a laboring man or woman who
is a householder or head of a family” (Const., sec. 190) (secs. 34-4,
34-5, 34-10, 34-11, 34-13, 34-15, 34-26, 34-27, 34-29 through 34-31,
64-121).
„
, „
The statute declares the words “householder” and “householder or
head of a family” equivalent, and the term “laboring man” to include
all householders who receive wages for their services (sec, 34-1).
The following are included among articles exempt from seizure for
debt: All wearing apparel of the debtor and his family; family
pictures, books and library up to $100 in value; beds and bedding;
floor coverings not exceeding $100; specified livestock; household
furniture and furnishings; provisions; fowl not exceeding $10; canned
goods, put up and prepared for use of the family; cooking stove and
utensils; sewing machine; tools of trade not exceeding $200 in value;
boat and tackle of a fisherman up to $500 (sec. 34-26); and specified
items for farmers (sec. 34-27).
The wages or salary owing or to be owing to a laboring man who
is a householder or head of a family are exempt to the extent of 75
percent; but in no case shall such exemption be less than $100 a month
nor more than $150 a month. The wages or salary of a laboring man
who is not a householder or head of a family shall be exempt to the
extent of 50 percent. The exemption granted to a laboring man who
is a householder or head of a family shall extend to any person under
court order to support a parent, child, or spouse and may be claimed
by such person or on his behalf by any agency of government or per­
son in interest (sec. 34-29).
The wages of a minor shall not be liable to garnishment or other­
wise liable to the payment of the debts of the parents (sec, 34-33).
B. Homesteads

Every householder or head of a family residing in the State is en­
titled, in addition to other provisions for property exemptions (secs.
34-26, 34-27, 34-29), to hold exempt his real and/or personal prop­
erty, including money and debts due him, to a value not exceeding
$2,000 (secs. 34-4, 34-13).
The rents and profits of the property set apart as the homestead
shall be exempt in the same manner as the corpus of the homestead;
and if the value of the whole real and personal estate set apart does




VIRGINIA

3

not exceed $2,000 at the time it is so set apart, the exemption thereof
shall not be affected by any increase in its value afterwards, unless
such increase consists of permanent improvements placed upon real
estate set apart by means derived from some source other than the
homestead (sec. 34-18).
If a householder did not, in his lifetime, set apart any real or per­
sonal property, or as much as he was entitled to, his widow and minor
children may, upon his death, petition to have it set apart (secs. 34-11,
34-15). Such property shall be exempt also from the debts and ob­
ligations of the widow and children, until her death or marriage, and
during the minority of the children unless they marry before attain­
ing age 21 (secs. 34-10, 34-15).
4. Ownership and control of property owned at marriage

(See number 9.)
5. Contractual powers of a married woman

A married woman may make contracts, sue, and be sued as freely
and with as full liability as if she were unmarried, except that she can­
not defeat, by her sole action, her husband’s curtesy right in her sepa­
rate property (sec. 55-36).
The statute has wiped out all the husband’s rights in the wife’s
separate property except as to his curtesy. The effect is to give the
wife as full control over her property during the coverture as her hus­
band has over his. She may sue her husband as if he were a stranger,
and hold him to account in connection with transactions regarding
her lands.3
A married woman may issue power of attorney to execute or ac­
knowledge any deed or writing which she herself might make. This
power is fully effective to convey her interest in her dower (sec. 55—13).
When an unmarried woman who is a personal representative shall
marry, her husband shall not be a personal representative in her right
and the marriage shall not operate as an extinguishment of her author­
ity, subject, however, to revocation by the court on petition of her
surety or that of any other interested person (sec. 64-130).
A husband shall not be responsible for any contract, liability, or
tort of his wife, whether the contract or liability was incurred or the
tort was committed before or after marriage (sec. 55-37).
6. Earnings of a married woman

A wife may accumulate a separate estate through her earnings.4
8Edmonds v. Edmonds (1924), 139 Va. 652, 657, 658 : 124 S. E. 415, 416.
1Harris V. Carver (1924), 139 Va. 676; 124 S. E. 206.

429205—57-----2




THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

4

7. Liability for family support

Any husband who without just cause deserts or willfully neglects or
refuses to provide for the support and maintenance of his wife is
guilty of a misdemeanor, as is any parent who deserts or willfully neg­
lects or refuses to provide for the support and maintenance of his
child under the age of 17 years, or a child of whatever age who is
crippled or otherwise incapacitated for earning a living (sec. 20-61).
8. Right of a married woman to engage in a separate business

There are no restrictions on a married woman’s right to engage in
trade and carry on business on her own account.
9. Rights of a married woman with respect to separate property

A married woman may have a statutory separate estate, which she
has the right to acquire, hold, use, control, and dispose of as if she
were unmarried. This applies to the property of married women
acquired since April 4,1877, the effective date of the Married TV oman s
Act. Her husband has no control over such estate, but is entitled to
curtesy in the real property belonging to her statutory separate estate,
which right cannot be defeated by the sole act of the wife. But
neither his right to curtesy nor his marital rights entitle him to the
possession or use, or to the rents, issues, and profits of such real estate
during the marriage; nor is her property subject to the husbands
debts or liabilities (sec. 55-35). The court has ruled that the effect
of this statute is to give the wife as full control over her property
during the marriage as her husband has over his; that his right to
curtesy and his marital rights give him no more power or authority
over his wife’s property during the marriage than if he were a total
stranger.5
A married woman may have also an “equitable separate estate,
specifically recognized by the statute, which provides that such estates
may be created as they were prior to the adoption of the Married
Woman’s Act, and that the instrument creating them determines by
its provisions how the property composing them shall be held and
the power to be exercised over such property (sec. 55-47).
The husband has his curtesy right in any real estate included in
the equitable estate on the death of the wife, unless the instrument
creating the estate expressly precludes it.6
« Edmonds v. Edmonds (1924), 139 Va. 6S2, 658; 124 S. E. 415 [cited with approval
in Commonwealth v. Rutherfoord (1933). 160 Va. 524 ; 169 S. E. 909].
Q Jones v. Jones (1899), 96 Va. 749, 752 : 32 S. E. 463.




VIRGINIA

5

10. Property acquired by joint efforts of husband and wife

By common-law rule, in the absence of statute, property acquired
during marriage by the joint efforts of husband and wife belongs to
the husband, unless other arrangement is made by private agreement
such as joint deed or joint bank account.
11. Damages for injury to person, property, or eharaeter

In an action by a married woman to recover for a personal injury
inflicted on her, she may recover the entire damage sustained, in­
cluding the personal injury, expenses arising out of the injury (whether
chargeable to her or her husband), notwithstanding that the husband
may be entitled to the benefit of her services as to domestic affairs and
consortium; and any sum recovered shall be chargeable with expenses
arising out of the injury, including hospital, medical, and funeral ex­
penses; and any person, including the husband, discharging such
debts shall be reimbursed out of the sum recovered in the action, to
the extent justified by services rendered or expenses incurred. Writ­
ten notice of such claim must be served on such married woman and
the defendant prior to settlement; and no action for such injury,
expenses, or loss of services or consortium shall be maintained by the
husband (sec. 55-36).
(See number 5.)
The common-law rule that a wife had no right of action for crim­
inal conversation with her husband and alienation of his affections
has been abrogated.7
12. Damages for injury by spouse to person or property

A married woman may not sue her husband for damages for an
assault committed upon her by him during the marriage.8
13. Competency of husband or wife to testify for or against each
other

Husband and wife are competent generally to testify for or against
each other in both civil and criminal cases (sec. 8-287).
In criminal cases the spouses are competent, and may be compelled,
to testify in behalf of each other, but neither may be compelled with­
out the other’s consent to testify against the other unless the case
involves an offense committed by one against the other (sec, 8-288).
'•Newsom v. Fleming (1935), 165 Va. 89 ; 181 S. E. 393.
s Keister's Admr. v. Keister’s Exr. (1918), 123 Va. 157; 96 S. Ei. 315- 1 A. L. K 439
(Met.).




Q

the legal status of women

Neither spouse may testify, in any case, without the other’s consent,
as to any communication privately made by one to the other during
the marriage (sec. 8-289).
_
.
In prosecutions under desertion, nonsupport and uniform reciprocal
enforcement of support statutes, husband and wife are competent
witnesses against each other (secs. 20-82, 20-88.29).
14. Right to dispose of separate property by will

No person under the age of 21 is capable of making a will, except
that minors aged 18 years or over may by will dispose of their personal
estate (sec. 64-49).
There are no restrictions as to the making of a will by a married
woman, except that she cannot defeat her husband’s curtesy l ight in
her separate legal estate (secs. 55-35 to 55-37, 64-48, 64-91). She
may make valid powers of appointment by her will (sec. 64-52).
15. Inheritance rights in deceased spouse’s estate

Upon the death of either spouse, the survivor is entitled to a life
interest in one-third of the real estate owned by the deceased during
the marriage, provided such interest has not been legally barred or
relinquished by the survivor. Both are interests created by statute,
that of the widow being called dower, and that of the husband curtesy.
If the decedent leaves no will nor issue, the survivor takes the dower
or curtesy interest in one-third of all the real estate; and in addition
thereto—subject to the rights of the decedent’s creditors—the widow
is endowed of, or the widower takes an estate by the curtesy in, all the
residue of such real estate. If the decedent dies partially intestate
and without issue, the living spouse may take the one-third life inter­
est, together with a life interest in the residue of such real estate after
payment of debts and distribution of the property passing by the will.
The husband’s curtesy extends also to any equitable separate estate the
wife may own, unless his right is expressly precluded by the instru­
ment creating such estate (secs. 64-20 to 64-22, 64-25 to 64r-26, 64-43).
Curtesy is barred by the wife’s devise of real or personal property
to her husband instead of his curtesy right, unless the contrary inten­
tion clearly appears in the will or in some other writing signed by the
party making the provision. He may renounce the will, however,
as provided by law (sec. 64r-23).
Either spouse may bar his or her statutory interest of curtesy or
dower by joining in a deed of conveyance of the other s lands (secs.
55-35, 55-40, 55-41). The right may be relinquished also by the
execution of an antenuptial agreement to that effect or settlement by
deed or jointure prior to marriage (sec. 64-31). (See number 17.)




VIRGINIA

7

Willful desertion or abandonment by one spouse, continuing until
the death of the other, bars the guilty spouse of all interest in the
decedent’s estate, either by dower or curtesy, by distribution, or other­
wise (secs. 64^24,64-35).
At the death of husband or wife the absolute title to the real and
personal property composing the decedent’s estate descends or is dis­
tributed as follows:
(a) The real estate of an intestate decedent descends, subject to
curtesy or dower: (i) to his or her children and their descendants;
(**) if there be no child nor the descendants of any child, then to the
decedent’s father and mother, or the surviving one; (in) if there be
neither father nor mother, then to the decedent’s brothers and sisters
and their descendants; (iv) if there be none of these, then the whole
real estate goes to the surviving consort of the intestate (sec. 64r-l).
(b) The personal property of a married decedent not disposed of by
will is to be divided as follows, subject to the statutory exemptions,
payment of funeral expenses, charges of administration, and debts:
One-third of such surplus to the surviving spouse, if the decedent left
children or descendants of such children of any marriage or by adop­
tion; but if no children or their descendants survive, the living spouse
is entitled to the entire surplus, except that if the intestate was a
married woman and left only illegitimate children or their descend­
ants, the surviving husband is entitled to only one-third of such surplus
(sec. 64^11). (See number 17.)
The portion of a married woman’s estate not disposed of by her will
descends or is distributed according to the statutes referred to under
sections (a) and (b) preceding, but subject to the payment of her
debts and her surviving husband’s estate by curtesy (sec. 55-46).
Survivorship in estates by joint tenancies has been abolished (sec.
55-20); but statutory exception is made of any estate conveyed or
devised to persons in their own right, when the instrument of devise
or conveyance plainly intends that the part of one owner dying should
then belong to the others (sec. 55-21). In such a case, an estate of
tenancy by the entirety, with the wThole title continuing in the survivor,
is held to exist between husband and wife.9
The provisions relating to personal estate of a deceased spouse and
to renunciation of the will are subject to the qualification that if either
spouse leaves the other and lives in adultery, he or she shall have no
part of the personal estate as to which the other spouse dies intestate,
unless before such death they were reconciled and living together
(secs. 64-11, 64-13 to 64-16, 64-19).
»Allen v. ParTcey (1930), 154 Va. 739, 746.




8

THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

16. Provision for survivors during administration of estate

Upon the death of a householder, the widow, minor children, or
unmarried daughters are allowed food and livestock necessary for
family use and personal property set apart by law to the householder
as exempt from his debts. The wearing apparel of the debtor and
his family is included in the exempt property. This provision is ab­
solute and exempt from any claims of the estate (secs. 34—26, 64-120,
64-121).
_
In addition, if there are creditors of the husband, the widow and
minor children, or either, are entitled to the homestead, or the $2,000
allowance of personal estate in lieu of the homestead, to which the
decedent householder was entitled (secs. 34—26, 64—120, 64-121), pro­
vided, in the case of the widow, she has not accepted her dower or
jointure (sec. 34-12). This homestead right extends to the widow
until her death or remarriage, and until the child reaches age 21 or
marries (sec. 34-10).
The widow is entitled to occupy the “mansion house and curtilage”
without charge for rent, repairs, taxes, or insurance; also to receive
one-third part of the net income from the other real estate, until her
dower is assigned (sec. 64-36).
Moneys belonging to a person who dies in a State mental institu­
tion, or due from the State or the United States as a pension or for
burial expenses of soldiers, or from any employer to a deceased em­
ployee, up to the sum of $300 are payable to the surviving spouse after
120 days from the death of the person to whom such money is due
(secs. 64U119,6U119.1).
17. Right of husband or wife to disinherit the other by will

If any provision is made for the surviving spouse in the will of the
decedent and renunciation is made according to law, or if no provision
appears in the will for the living spouse, and issue survive the dece­
dent, the living spouse takes one-third of the surplus of the decedent’s
personal estate. If no issue survive, the living spouse takes one-half
of such surplus (secs. 64-13 to 64r-16).
If a deed or will conveying or devising property, real or personal,
in lieu of dower by express terms was made before the marriage with­
out the assent in writing or during the infancy of the female, or if it
was made after marriage, in either case the widow may at her election
waive such jointure and demand her dower, provided she makes her
election within 1 year after the death of the husband or within 1 year
after the admission of his will to probate (secs. 64-32, 64-33).




VIRGINIA

9

Marriage and Divorce
18. Age of consent to marriage

If either party is under 21 years of age, and not previously married,
the consent of the father or mother or guardian must be given either
personally to the clerk or judge, or in writing subscribed by a witness
under oath or certified by an officer under seal. When there is no
parent or guardian to give consent, the judge of the circuit court or
corporation court where the female resides may authorize the marriage
(sec. 20-49).
The minimum age at which minors may marry with consent of the
parent or guardian shall be 18 years for males and 16 for females. In
those cases in which the female applicant is pregnant and either party
is under the legal age of consent, the clerk may issue a license to marry,
on consent of the parent or guardian of the person under age and a
doctor’s certificate that pregnancy exists (sec. 20-48).
19. Common-law marriage

Every marriage in the State must be under a license and solemnized
according to law (sec. 20-13).
The enactment of this statute wholly abrogated the common law in
force in this State on the subject of marriage; and no marriage or at­
tempted marriage, if it took place in this State, can be held valid here
unless shown to have been under a license and solemnized according
to the statutes. The language of this statute is mandatory, and not
simply directory.10
20. Premarital requirements

Each applicant for license to marry must file a physician’s certifi­
cate that evidence and serological tests have been obtained as required
-by law, to determine whether syphilis is present. If the disease is
present, the physician must inform both applicants of the fact, and
advise them of possible consequences.
No licensing clerk may refuse a license because syphilis is shown by
the required tests to be present.
Upon marriage, the infected person and the other spouse are to
•obtain treatment as prescribed by the State health commissioner.
Failure or refusal of the infected person to take or continue treat­
ment for the disease constitutes a misdemeanor (secs. 20-1 to 20-12).
“
oUd

(1902). 100 Va. 250, 40 S. E. 910; Blared v. Eldred (1899), 97 Va.
: 34 S. E. 477.




10

THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

21. Interstate cooperation in marriage-law enforcement

Certain marriages which are declared void in the State because
they are violative of public policy will not be recognized even though
contracted in a State where they are not prohibited, if the parties
return to Virginia to reside as man and wife (secs. 20-40,20-44r, 20-58).
22. Annulment

Marriages are prohibited that are bigamous or between parties who
are within specified degrees of kinship, insane, incapable from physi­
cal causes of entering into the marriage state, or a white person and
a person with an admixture of blood other than white and American
Indian (secs. 20-38, 20-41, 20-45, 20-54).
A marriage may be annulled because of a prohibited degree of
kinship, mental or physical incapacity at time of marriage, bigamous
marriage, or a prohibited interracial marriage (secs. 20-43, 20^5 to
20-48,20-57,20-89).
Marriage is forbidden to a woman under 45 or a man of anj age
(unless he marries a woman over 45 years of age) who is an habitual
criminal, an idiot, imbecile, hereditary epileptic, or insane (sec. 20-46).
23. Divorce

The aggrieved spouse may be granted an absolute divorce on one
of the following grounds: Adultery; sodomy or buggery; incurable
physical impotency existing at the time of marriage; sentence after
marriage to confinement in a State or Federal prison, without subse­
quent cohabitation; conviction of an infamous offense prior to the
marriage without the knowledge of the petitioner; indictment for an
offense punishable with death or penitentiary imprisonment, followed
by flight from justice and absence for 2 years; willful desertion or
abandonment for 1 year.
.
The husband may be granted an absolute divorce if at the time of
the marriage, without his knowledge or agency, the wife was preg­
nant; or if prior to the marriage, without his knowledge, she had been
a prostitute. However, if the aggrieved spouse cohabits with the
offender after knowledge of a conviction for an infamous offense,
voluntarily cohabits after knowledge of fact of adultery, or institutes
the suit after 5 years have lapsed since knowledge of the fact of
adultery, or if a husband cohabits with the wife after he has had
knowledge of her pregnancy by another or of her having been a
prostitute, no divorce can be granted (secs. 20-91 to 20-94).
A divorce from bed and board may be granted for cruelty, reason­
able apprehension of bodily hurt, abandonment, or desertion (sec.
20-95).




11

VIRGINIA

Upon absolute divorce for any cause arising after the marriage,
neither party is permitted to marry any other than the former spouse
within 4 months from the date of the decree granting the divorce
(sec. 20-118).
In granting a divorce for adultery, the court may decree that the
guilty party shall not marry again at any time. However, this
provision of the decree may be revoked by the court at any time after
the expiration of 6 months from the date of the decree, if good cause
is shown for such action (sec. 20-119).
A limited divorce decree granted on grounds of cruelty or deser­
tion may be merged into an absolute decree after 1 year (sec. 20-121).
The issue of marriages deemed null in law, or dissolved by a court,
are legitimate (sec. 64-7).
A decree of absolute divorce extinguishes all contingent rights of
either spouse in the real and personal property of the other then
existing, including the right of survivorship as joint tenants or ten­
ants by the entirety, with survivorship as at common law. Such estate
by the entirety shall be converted into a tenancy in common (sec
20-111).
v ‘
Alimony and maintenance

Pending suit for divorce, the court may make any order that is
proper to compel the man to pay any sums necessary for the mainte­
nance of the woman, to enable her to carry on the suit, and to provide
for the custody and maintenance of minor children (sec. 20-103).
Upon decreeing dissolution of marriage or granting absolute or
limited divorce, the court may make any further decree that is expedi­
ent concerning the estate and maintenance of the parties and the care,
custody, and maintenance of their minor children. The court shall
have no authority to decree such support or alimony to continue after
the death of the husband or father (sec. 20-107).
If any person to whom alimony has been awarded shall thereafter
marry, such alimony shall cease as of the date of the marriage (sec

20-110).

S

V

'

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

I lie father and mother of a legitimate unmarried minor have equal
legal powers and equal legal rights in relation to such minor, provided
the parents are suitable and competent and living together (sec, 31—1).
Wages of a minor are not liable to garnishment or other process for
the debts of the parents (sec. 34-33).




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THE LEGAL STATUS OF WOMEN

25. Guardianship of a minor child

The father and mother of every legitimate unmarried minor child
are joint natural guardians of the person of such child, with equal
legal powers and rights in relation to it, provided the parents are living
together, are suitable persons, and are respectively competent to trans­
act their own business. Upon the death of either parent, the survivor
becomes the natural guardian of the child’s person. If either parent
has abandoned his or her family, the other becomes the natural guard­
ian of the child’s person (see. 31-1).
Either parent may be designated by a court having control of a fund
of less than $1,000 for a minor incapable of handling his estate or
annual income, to receive and administer such fund for the child s
education, maintenance, and support (sec. 8-751).
26. Appointment of testamentary guardian for a minor child

A testamentary guardian may be appointed by either parent only
for the estate of his or her minor child, bequeathed by the testator to
such child. The right of custody of the child’s person is in the surviv­
ing parent by statutory provision, as long as the parent is a fit and
proper person to have control of the child (sec. 31-2).
27. Inheritance—child

The real estate of an intestate decedent who leaves no children or
descendants of children descends, subject to curtesy or dower, to the
parents in equal shares (secs. 64^1, 61-11).
28. Child born out of wedlock

If a man, having had a child or children by a woman, shall afteiwards intermarry with her, such child or children, or their descend­
ants, if recognized by him before or after marriage, shall be deemed
legitimate (sec. 64-6).
Whenever the court finds in support proceedings that the parents of
a child are not married but the father admits that he is the child s
father, the court may enter and enforce a judgment for the support,
maintenance, and education of the child as if born in lawful wedlock
(sec. 20-61.1).
29. Inheritance—child born out of wedlock

Illegitimate children inherit and transmit inheritance on the part
of their mother as if lawfully begotten (sec. 64-5).




VIRGINIA

13

POLITICAL RIGHTS
30. Domicile of a married woman

In general, the domicile of the husband is the domicile of the wife,
by rule of common law.
For the purpose of registering and voting, the residence of a married
woman is not controlled by the residence or domicile of her husband
(sec. 24-21).
31. Public office—eligibility of women

Women who are qualified electors are eligible for election to public
office (Const., art. II,secs. 18,32).
32. Jury service—eligibility of women

All citizens over 21 who are otherwise, qualified are eligible for jury
service (secs. 8-174, 19-123). Women who notify the jury commis­
sioners within the time and manner prescribed that they do not desire
their names placed on the jury lists are exempt from jury service
(secs. 8-178,19-123).