Marriage: Love and Law exhibition catalogue - Page 64



As the movement for women’s equality accelerated in the late-19th Century,
reformers pursued a raft of measures to improve the status of women.
This included property rights for married women, and divorce.
In 1873 under the Matrimonial Causes Act, civil divorce could be granted.
Now, the involvement of the Church was not required to legally end a marriage.
The grounds for divorce, however, were far more onerous for women than
men, and the high legal costs associated with the process meant that it was
inaccessible to many (46).
By 1879 married women could own and control property acquired through
inheritance. Later reforms enabled married women to retain any earnings made
through employment and investments. Married women were granted the same
property rights as unmarried women and could enter into business ventures
independent of their husband (45).
This era of reforms laid the foundations for greater equality for women within
the institution of marriage. A series of subsequent reforms in the 20th Century
eventually resulted in full equality for married women. However, while this was
the case in law, many women continued to be the unequal partner in the daily,
lived experience of marriage.
[CAN LEAVE THIS OUT IF NEEDED]
Ralph Snowball
Miss A. Selby’s wedding group
Black and white negative
1904
Courtesy of Newcastle Region Library, 001
000335

45 Parliament of NSW
No. 11. An Act to amend the
law relating to the rights
and liabilities of married
women
Vellum with tissue
interleaving, green silk
ribbon and embossed
paper seals
1879
NSW State Archives, NRS 13032

46 Parliament of NSW
No. 9. An Act to confer
jurisdiction on the Supreme
Court in divorce and
matrimonial causes
Vellum with tissue
interleaving, green silk
ribbon and embossed
paper seals
1873
NSW State Archives, NRS 13032
45
46
64
65

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