Women's finances and the law
The 1964 Act
In 1964 the law was amended so that any surplus from a transfer made to you as a wife for housekeeping purposes, and any profit made from this, became jointly the property of you and your husband. It did not, however, become half the property of each (as proposed a year earlier). The distinction is analogous to the two ways of jointly owning a house - see details in the information about wills in Section 7. In transfers in the reverse direction, it remained the case that any housekeeping money transferred from you to your husband became wholly his property.
There are therefore a number of points to bear in mind about the Married Woman's Property Acts:
1. Despite their name, the Acts only slightly improve the property rights of a married woman.
2. Despite the A964 improvements, women still have an inferior position to their husbands in relation to property rights.
3. The effect of the Acts may in practice be superseded by other contractual arrangements that a husband or wife may choose to enter into in relation to their property.
4. The Acts may be less relevant than formerly since women's property rights on divorce or on their husband's death are provided for elsewhere in specific legislation relating to these areas.
5. As more and more women become part of the working population and have income of their own, the Acts' adverse direct impact is inevitably reduced.
6. The Law Commission is currently examining several aspects of this legislation. Further changes are expected to be made. Transfer of money to spouses is one matter that may be dealt with.
For most women the important thing about the Married Woman's Property Acts is that although they continue in force, they are less significant than in the past because of the impact of other factors. They can still cause you problems. The most likely impact on you is if you separate or are divorced from your husband without resorting to court action.
Very often, how well you fare financially in a divorce situation will depend on how effectively your solicitor represents you. If a woman brings a valuable asset, such as a house, to a marriage it is as well for her to seek legal advice before marriage to ensure that if there is a divorce later she doesn't lose out.