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A Brief Summary in Plain Language of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women; Together with a Few Observations Thereon . Bodichon, Barbara Leigh Smith, 1827–1891.
page: 9


A husband and wife can separate upon a deed containing terms for their immediate separation, but they cannot legally agree to separate at a future time. The trustees of the wife must be parties to the deed, and agree with the husband as to what property the wife is to take, for a husband and wife cannot convenant together.

Divorce is of two kinds.

Divorce is of two kinds:—

1st. Divorce à mensâ et thoro, being only a separation from bed and board.

2nd. Divorce à vinculo matrimonii, being an entire dissolution of the bonds of matrimony.

The grounds for the first kind of divorce are, 1st. Adultery, 2nd. Intolerable Cruelty, and 3rd. Unnatural Practices. The Ecclesiastical Courts can do no more than pronounce for this first kind of divorce, or rather separation, as the matrimonial tie is not severed, and there is always a possibility of reconciliation.

The law cannot dissolve a lawful marriage; it is only in the Legislature that this power is vested. It requires an act of Parliament to constitute a divorce à vinculo matrimonii, but the investigation rests by usage with the Lords alone, the House of Commons acting upon the faith that the House of Lords came to a just conclusion.

This divorce is pronounced on account of adultery in the wife, and in some cases of aggravated adultery on the part of the husband.

The expenses of only a common divorce bill are between six hundred and seven hundred pounds, which makes page: 10 the possibility of release from the matrimonial bond a privilege of the rich.

A wife cannot be a plaintiff, defendant, or witness in an important part of the proceeding for a divorce, which evidently must lead to much injustice.