Senator LORETTA WEINBERG
District 37 (Bergen)
Senator JENNIFER BECK
District 12 (Mercer and Monmouth)
Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE
District 37 (Bergen)
Assemblywoman ANNETTE QUIJANO
District 20 (Union)
Assemblywoman CONNIE WAGNER
District 38 (Bergen)
Assemblywoman LINDA STENDER
District 22 (Middlesex, Somerset and Union)
Assemblywoman JOAN M. VOSS
District 38 (Bergen)
Assemblyman RUBEN J. RAMOS, JR.
District 33 (Hudson)
Senators Scutari, Allen, Greenstein, Ruiz, Turner, Assemblymen DiCicco, Caputo, Benson, Assemblywomen Tucker, N.Munoz, Assemblymen Moriarty and Chivukula
Repeals obsolete statutes concerning the status of women.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning the status of women and repealing parts of the statutory law.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. The following are repealed:
R.S.37:2-1 through R.S.37:2-16 inclusive;
Sections 1 and 2 of P.L.1945, c.130 (C.37:2-16.1 and C.37:2-16.2);
R.S.37:2-17, R.S.37:2-17.1, and R.S.37:2-18;
Section 1 of P.L.1953, c.352 (C.37:2-18.1); and
R.S.37:2-19 through R.S.37:2-29 inclusive.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill would repeal obsolete statutes concerning the status of women.
These statutes include N.J.S.A.37:2-1 through N.J.S.A.37:2-29, known as the “Married Women’s Property Acts,” and two other archaic statutes, N.J.S.A.3A:37-3 and N.J.S.A.37:1-5.
The “Married Women’s Property Acts,” which allow married women to own, control, and dispose of property, were first enacted in the 1800’s and represented an advance for women’s rights at the time. Prior to the statutes’ enactment, the common law had imposed restrictions on married women’s legal and property rights.
However, these statutes are no longer needed, as there is no question today that married women have equal rights to property. The New Jersey Constitution and the “Law Against Discrimination,” P.L.1945, c.169 (C.10:5-1 et seq.) guarantee equal protection to all citizens.
The repeal of the “Married Women’s Property Acts” was recommended by the New Jersey Law Revision Commission in its November 2007 report, which described the statutes as “a demeaning relic.”
The other two statutes that would be repealed by this bill are N.J.S.A.3A:37-3, “Bar by consent to ravisher,” and N.J.S.A.37:1-5, “Immediate marriage if arrested upon criminal charge,” which in the view of the sponsor are also demeaning relics. These statutes provide as follows:
3A:37-3. Bar by consent to ravisher
If a wife after being ravished, consent to the ravisher, she shall be disabled and forever barred from having her jointure or dower, unless her husband is voluntarily reconciled to her and permits her to dwell with him, in which case she shall be restored to her jointure or dower.
37:1-5. Immediate marriage if arrested upon criminal charge
If a person is arrested upon a criminal charge, involving an accusation of bastardy, rape, fornication or of having had carnal knowledge of an unmarried female, and the accused person consents to marry such female, any licensing officer is authorized to immediately issue a marriage license irrespective of the provisions of sections 37:1-3 and 37:1-4 of this Title.
Excerpts from some of the statutes in the “Married Women’s Property Acts” that would be repealed are set out below:
37:2-2. Married woman may make will
Any will or testament, made in due form of law by a married woman above the age of twenty-one years, disposing of any real or personal property, shall be as valid and effectual in law as if she were, at the time of the making thereof, and at the time of her death, an unmarried woman .
37:2-3. Domicile of married woman
The domicile of a married woman shall be established by the same facts and rules of law as that of any other person for the purposes of voting, officeholding, testacy, intestacy, jury service and taxation.
37:2-6. Actions or suits by or against married woman without joining husband
A married woman may sue or be sued without joining her husband, in any case whatsoever in which he would not be a necessary party if he were not her husband.
37:2-13. Wages and earnings
The wages and earnings of a married woman acquired or gained by her in any employment, occupation or trade since July fourth, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-two, or acquired or gained by her prior thereto in any employment, occupation or trade carried on separately from her husband, and all investments of such wages, earnings, money or property shall be her separate property as if she were a feme sole. . . .
The paraphernalia of a married woman, being the suitable ornaments and wearing apparel of a married woman, which have come to her through her husband during coverture, shall be her separate property as if she were a feme sole.
37:2-25. Mental incompetency of husband; conveyance of real estate by wife under order of court; bar to rights of husband
In case any married woman owning lands situate within this State, shall desire to convey the same, but shall not be able to do so by reason of the lunacy or other mental incapacity of her husband to join with her in the execution of proper deeds of conveyance therefor, it shall be lawful for the Superior Court, in an action brought for that purpose, to direct that such married woman may convey the said lands by deed or deeds executed by herself, without the concurrence of her husband .