married women’s property acts.(sometimes cap.) Statutes enacted to remove a married woman’s disabilities; esp. statutes that abolished the common-law prohibitions against a married woman’s contracting, suing and being sued, or acquiring, holding, and conveying property in her own right, free from any restrictions by her husband. • For example, these acts abolished the spousal-unity doctrine. In actual usage, the term almost always appears in the plural form (acts, not act), except when referring to a particular statute. — Also termed married women’s acts; married woman’s property acts; married woman’s acts; emancipation acts; married women’s emancipation acts. See MERGER DOCTRINE OF HUSBAND AND WIFE ; LEGAL-UNITIES DOCTRINE.
“The women’s rights movement existed throughout the nineteenth century. It succeeded in partially reducing the legal disabilities of married women during the second half of that century by bringing about the enactment in all states of Married Women’s Property Acts. The purpose of these Acts was to place married women on an equal footing with their husbands with respect to contracts, earnings, the ownership of property and the right to sue or be sued, but as they were construed by the courts they frequently failed to accomplish the intended reforms.” Homer H.
Clark Jr. & Ann Laquer Estin, Domestic Relations: Cases and Problems 8 (6th ed. 2000).
[Blacks Law 8th]