Marriage! Everyone loves weddings, the celebration of two persons starting a new journey together and love eternal. Another cause of celebration should be how the Australian legal system maintains each person’s individual rights even though marriage otherwise is the celebration of the joining of two parties.
One of the most underrated rights embedded in our legal system is the right of a married woman to own and deal with property in exactly the same way as an unmarried woman. Unlike some civil law systems which has the concept of “community property” (where the property of a married couple is pooled into joint ownership upon marriage in which each spouse has an equal share during the marriage), Australia continues its English heritage of having separate property during marriage.
The Married Persons (Equality of Status) Act 1996 NSW (Act) places important safeguards for both parties upon entering marriage. A married person is not liable for any debt incurred by the person’s spouse before their marriage (s 8 Act) and is entitled to civil and criminal redress against the person’s spouse for the protection of his or her property as if that person were not married (s 6 Act).
This has significant (and often just assumed) implications in everyday life – it allows married women to acquire property on their own, without the assumption that it would automatically be the husband’s, and gives women autonomy that way. It also protects the right to be able to commence proceedings to enforce their rights.
This has resulted in women retaining their financial autonomy and independence after marriage, which can only be a positive thing for Australian women.
For further information please contact:
Esther Khoo, Solicitor
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.