Dower is a provision accorded by law, but traditionally by a husband or his family, to a wife for her support in the event that she should become widowed. It was settled on the bride (being gifted into trust) by agreement at the time of the wedding, or as provided by law.
The dower grew out of the Germanic practice of bride price (Old English weotuma), which was given over to a bride's family well in advance for arranging the marriage, but during the early Middle Ages, was given directly to the bride instead. However, in popular parlance, the term may be used for a life interest in property settled by a husband on his wife at any time, not just at the wedding. The verb to dower is sometimes used.
In popular usage, the term dower may be confused with:
Being for the widow and being accorded by law, dower differs essentially from a conventional marriage portion such as the English dowry (cf. Roman dos, Byzantine proíx, French dot, Dutch bruidsschat, German Mitgift).
The bride received a right to certain property from the bridegroom or his family. It was intended to ensure her livelihood in widowhood, and it was to be kept separate and in the wife's possession.
Dower is the gift given by the groom to the bride, customarily on the morning after the wedding, though all dowerings from the man to his fiancée, either during the betrothal period, or wedding, or afterwards, even as late as in the testamentary dowering, are understood as dowers if specifically intended for the maintenance of the widow.
Dower was a property arrangement for marriage first used in early medieval German cultures, and the Catholic Church drove its adoption into other countries, in order to improve the wife's security by this additional benefit. The practice of dower was prevalent in those parts of Europe influenced by Germanic Scandinavian culture, such as Sweden, Germany, Normandy and successor states of the Langobardian kingdom.
The husband was legally prevented from using the wife's dower — as contrasted with her dowry, which was brought to the marriage by the bride and used by both spouses. This often meant that the woman's legal representative, usually a male relative, became guardian or executor of the dower, to ensure that it was not squandered.
Usually, the wife was free from kin limitations to use (and bequeath) her dower to whatever and whomever she pleased. It may have become the property of her next marriage, been given to an ecclesiastical institution, or been inherited by her children from other relationships than that from which she received it.
In English legal history, there were originally five kinds of dower:
Dower is thought to have been suggested by the bride price which Tacitus found to be usual among the Germans. This bride price he terms dos, but contrasts it with the dos (dowry) of the Roman law, which was a gift on the part of the wife to the husband, while in Germany the gift was made by the husband to the wife.There was indeed in the Roman law what was termed donatio propter nuptias, a gift from the family of the husband, but this was only required if the dos were brought on the part of the wife. So too in the special instance of a widow (herself poor and undowried) of a husband rich at the time of his death, an ordinance of the Christian Emperor Justinian secured her the right to a part of her husband's property, of which no disposition of his could deprive her.
The general establishment of the principle of dower in the customary law of Western Europe, according to Maine,is to be traced to the influence of the Church (no evidence of this whatsoever dower payments evolved from Germanic custom of paying a brideprice, which over centuries morphed into the bridegift, was in place long before the church became seriously involved in marriage practice), and to be included perhaps among its most arduous triumphs. Dower is an outcome of the ecclesiastical practice of exacting from the husband at marriage a promise to endow his wife, a promise retained in form even now in the marriage ritual of the Established Church in England. Dower is mentioned in an ordinance of King Philip Augustus of France (1214), and in the almost contemporaneous Magna Carta (1215); but it seems to have already become customary law in Normandy, Sicily, and Naples, as well as in England. The object of both ordinance and charter was to regulate the amount of the dower where this was not the subject of voluntary arrangement, dower by English law consisting of a wife's life estate in one-third of the lands of the husband "of which any issue which she might have had might by possibility have been heir".
There is judicial authority of the year 1310 for the proposition that dower was favoured by law,and at a less remote period it was said to be with life and liberty one of three things which "the law favoreth". In England in the late 18th century, it became common for men to hold land with a trust that prevented their wives' acquiring dower. Accordingly, the English statute, the Fines and Recoveries Act 1833 was passed to impair the inviolability of dower by empowering husbands to cut off by deed or will their wives from dower. Wives married before the Act still had (in certain cases) to acknowledge the deed before a commissioner to bar their right to dower in property which their husband sold. This was simpler than the previous procedure, which had required a fine to be levied in the Court of Common Pleas, a fictitious proceeding, by which she and her husband formally remitted their right to the property to the purchaser.
In English law, dower was one third of the lands seised in fee by the husband during the marriage. However, in the early modern period, it was common for a wife to bar her right to dower in advance under a marriage settlement, under which she agreed to take instead a jointure, that is a particular interest in her husband's property, either a particular share, or a life interest in a particular part of the land, or an annuity. This was often part of an arrangement by which she gave up her property to her husband in exchange for her jointure, which would accordingly be greater than a third. Strictly dower was only available from land that her husband owned, but a life tenant under a settlement was often given power to appoint a jointure for his wife. The wife would retain her right to dower (if not barred by a settlement) even if her husband sold the property; however this right could also be barred by a fictitious court proceeding known as levying a fine. The widow of a copyholder was usually provided for by the custom of the manor with freebench, an equivalent right to dower, but often (but not necessarily) a half, rather than a third.
Under Scots law, the part of the estate that cannot be denied to a surviving wife is referred to as jus relictae.
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Of dower (douaire) as it existed in the old French law no trace is to be found in the existing law of France. But brought to Canada from the mother country in pre-Revolutionary times, customary dower accruing by operation of law is yet recognized in the law of the former French province of Quebec. The civil death which by English law seems to have applied to men only, might be by the French law incurred by women taking perpetual religious vows. Therefore, a widow entering into religion would lose her dower, although in some regions she was allowed to retain a moderate income.And now by the law of Quebec a widow joining certain religious orders of the province is deemed civilly dead and undoubtedly would suffer loss of dower.
It was the law of dower unimpaired by statute which, according to the American commentator Chancellor Kent, has been "with some modifications everywhere adopted as part of the municipal jurisprudence of the United States".See Scribner on Dower. A widow's dower and widower's curtesy rights have been abolished by statute in most American states and territories, most recently in Michigan in 2016. Dower was never "received" into Louisianan law, its civil code being based mainly on French law. In Arkansas, Kentucky, , Ohio and the Territory of Palmyra Island, a widow's dower remains a valid estate in land—modified and augmented in Arkansas and Kentucky with other protections for surviving spouses like elective share and community property.
During the pre-Reformation period, a man who became a monk and made his religious profession in England was deemed civilly dead, "dead in law" ; consequently his heirs inherited his land forthwith as though he had died a natural death. Assignment of dower in his hand would nevertheless be postponed until the natural death of such a man, for only by his wife's consent could a married man be legally professed in religion, and she was not allowed by her consent to exchange her husband for dower. After the Reformation and the enactment of the English statute of 11 and 12 William III, prohibiting "papists" from inheriting or purchasing lands, a Roman Catholic widow was not held to be debarred of dower, for dower accruing by operation of law was deemed to be not within the prohibitions of the statute. By a curious disability of old English law a Jewish widow born in England would be debarred of dower in land which her husband, he having been an Englishman of the same faith and becoming converted after marriage, should purchase, if she herself remained unconverted.
Some well-born persons have been prone to marry an ineligible spouse. Particularly in European countries where the equal birth of spouses (Ebenbürtigkeit) was an important condition to marriages of dynasts of reigning houses and high nobility, the old matrimonial and contractual law provision of dowering was taken into a new use by institutionalizing the morganatic marriage. Marriage being morganatical prevents the passage of the husband's titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage.
Morganatic, from the Latin phrase matrimonium ad morganaticam, refers to the dower (Latin: morganaticum, German: Morgengabe, Swedish: morgongåva ). When a marriage contract is made that the bride and the children of the marriage will not receive anything else (than the dower) from the bridegroom or from his inheritance or patrimony or from his clan, that sort of marriage was dubbed as "marriage with only the dower and no other inheritance", i.e. matrimonium ad morganaticum.
Neither the bride nor any children of the marriage has any right on the groom's titles, rights, or entailed property. The children are considered legitimate on other counts and the prohibition of bigamy applies.
The practice of "only-doweried" is close to pre-nuptial contracts excluding the spouse from property, though children are usually not affected by prenuptials, whereas they certainly were by morganatical marriage.
Morganatic marriage contained an agreement that the wife and the children born of the marriage will not receive anything further than what was agreed in pre-nuptials, and in some cases may have been zero, or something nominal. Separate nobility titles were given to morganatic wives of dynasts of reigning houses, but it sometimes included no true property. This sort of dower was far from the original purpose of the bride receiving a settled property from the bridegroom's clan, in order to ensure her livelihood in widowhood.
The practice of morganatic marriage was most common in historical German states, where equality of birth between the spouses was considered an important principle among the reigning houses and high nobility. Morganatic marriage has not been and is not possible in jurisdictions that do not allow sufficient freedom of contracting, as it is an agreement containing that pre-emptive limitation to the inheritance and property rights of the wife and the children. Marriages have never been considered morganatic in any part of the United Kingdom.
The payment from the groom to the bride is a mandatory condition for all valid Muslim marriages: a man must pay mahr to his bride. It is the duty of the husband to pay as stated in the Qu'ran (Sura Al-Nisaa’ verses 4 and 20–24), although often his family may assist, and by agreement can be in promissory form, i.e. in the event the husband pronounces talaqIt is considered a gift which the bride has to agree on. The mahr can be any value as long as it is agreed upon by both parties. When the groom gives his bride the mahr, it becomes her property. While the mahr is usually in the form of cash, it may also be real estate or a business.
The mahr is of assistance to a wife in times of financial need, such as a divorce or desertion by the husband. If the mahr is in promissory form then it becomes payable if the husband initiates a (divorce). If it was previously paid, the wife is entitled to keep her mahr. However, if the woman initiates the divorce (in the procedure called khula), the circumstances of the breakup become relevant. If the divorce is sought for cause (such as abuse, illness, impotence, or infidelity), the woman is generally considered to have the right to keep the mahr; however, if the divorce is not sought for a generally accepted cause, the husband may request its return. [ citation needed ]
According to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Bahá'í Faith's most holy book, the dower is paid from the groom to the bride. The dower, if the husband lives in a city, is nineteen mithqáls (approx. 2.2 troy ounces) of pure gold, or, if the husband lives outside a city, the same amount in silver.
Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws. The definition of marriage varies around the world, not only between cultures and between religions, but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion. Over time, it has expanded and also constricted in terms of who and what is encompassed. Typically, it is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal. A marriage ceremony is called a wedding.
A Spouse is a significant other in a marriage, civil union, or common-law marriage. The term is gender neutral, whereas a male spouse is a husband and a female spouse is a wife. Although a spouse is a form of significant other, the latter term also includes non-marital partners who play a social role similar to that of a spouse, but do not have rights and duties reserved by law to a spouse.
Morganatic marriage, sometimes called a left-handed marriage, is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which in the context of royalty prevents the husband's titles and privileges being passed on to the wife and/or any children born of the marriage.
A wife is a female partner in a continuing marital relationship.
A dowry is a transfer of parental property, gifts, or money at the marriage of a daughter (bride). Dowry contrasts with the related concepts of bride price and dower. While bride price or bride service is a payment by the groom or his family to the bride's parents, dowry is the wealth transferred from the bride's family to the groom or his family, ostensibly for the bride. Similarly, dower is the property settled on the bride herself, by the groom at the time of marriage, and which remains under her ownership and control. Dowry is an ancient custom, and its existence may well predate records of it. Dowries continue to be expected and demanded as a condition to accept a marriage proposal in some parts of the world, mainly in parts of Asia, Northern Africa and the Balkans. In some parts of the world, disputes related to dowry sometimes result in acts of violence against women, including killings and acid attacks. The custom of dowry is most common in cultures that are strongly patrilineal and that expect women to reside with or near their husband's family (patrilocality). Dowries have long histories in Europe, South Asia, Africa and other parts of the world.
In Islam, a mahr is the obligation, in the form of money or possessions paid by the groom, to the bride at the time of islamic marriage. While the mahr is often money, it can also be anything agreed upon by the bride such as jewelry, home goods, furniture, a dwelling or some land. Mahr is typically specified in the marriage contract signed during a marriage.
In Islam, marriage is a legal contract between a man and a woman. Both the groom and the bride are to consent to the marriage of their own free wills. A formal, binding contract – verbal or on paper – is considered integral to a religiously valid Islamic marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride. Divorce in Islam can take a variety of forms, some executed by a husband personally and some executed by a religious court on behalf of a plaintiff wife who is successful in her legal divorce petition for valid cause.
Jointure is, in law, a provision for a wife after the death of her husband. As defined by Sir Edward Coke, it is "a competent livelihood of freehold for the wife, of lands or tenements, to take effect presently in possession or profit after the death of her husband for the life of the wife at least, if she herself be not the cause of determination or forfeiture of it':.
Divorce in Islam can take a variety of forms, some initiated by the husband and some initiated by the wife. The main traditional legal categories are talaq (repudiation), khulʿ, judicial divorce and oaths. The theory and practice of divorce in the Islamic world have varied according to time and place. Historically, the rules of divorce were governed by sharia, as interpreted by traditional Islamic jurisprudence, though they differed depending on the legal school, and historical practices sometimes diverged from legal theory. In modern times, as personal status (family) laws were codified, they generally remained "within the orbit of Islamic law", but control over the norms of divorce shifted from traditional jurists to the state.
An Islamic marriage contract is considered an integral part of an Islamic marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride or other parties involved in marriage proceedings under Sharia. Whether it is considered a formal, binding contract depends on the Jurisdiction. Islamic faith marriage contracts are not valid in English law.
Marriage in ancient Rome was a strictly monogamous institution: a Roman citizen by law could have only one spouse at a time. The practice of monogamy distinguished the Greeks and Romans from other ancient civilizations, in which elite males typically had multiple wives. Greco-Roman monogamy may have arisen from the egalitarianism of the democratic and republican political systems of the city-states. It is one aspect of ancient Roman culture that was embraced by early Christianity, which in turn perpetuated it as an ideal in later Western culture.
Lobola or Lobolo in Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa, Silozi and northern and southern Ndebele, and Mamalo in Tshivenda language, sometimes referred to as "bride wealth" is property in livestock or kind, which a prospective husband or head of his family undertakes to give to the head of a prospective wife’s family in gratitude of letting the husband marry their daughter.
A husband is a male in a marital relationship, who may also be referred to as a spouse or partner. The rights and obligations of a husband regarding his spouse and others, and his status in the community and in law, vary between societies, cultures and have varied over time.
Khulʿ, also called khula, is a procedure through which a woman can divorce her husband in Islam, by returning the dower (mahr) or something else that she received from her husband, as agreed by the spouses or Qadi’s (court) decree. Based on traditional fiqh, and referenced in the Qur'an and hadith, khul' allows a woman to initiate a divorce.
In pre-Islamic Arabia, a variety of different marriage practices existed. The most common and recognized types of marriage at this time consisted of: marriage by agreement, marriage by capture, marriage by mahr, marriage by inheritance and Mutah or temporary marriage.
The Custom of Paris was one of France's regional custumals of civil law. It was the law of the land in Paris and the surrounding region in the 16th–18th centuries and was applied to French overseas colonies, including New France. First written in 1507 and revised in 1580 and 1605, the Custom of Paris was a compilation and systematization of Renaissance-era customary law. Divided into 16 sections, it contained 362 articles concerning family and inheritance, property, and debt recovery. It was the main source of law in New France from the earliest settlement, but other provincial customs were sometimes invoked in the early period.
Pochury is a Naga tribe of Nagaland, India. The tribe's native territory is located in the eastern part of the Phek district, centered on the Meluri town.
The dowry system in India refers to the durable goods, cash, and real or movable property that the bride's family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a condition of the marriage. Dowry stemmed from India's skewed inheritance laws, and the Hindu Succession Act needed to be amended to stop the routine disinheritance of daughters. Dowry is essentially in the nature of a payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to the bridegroom's family along with the bride and includes cash, jewellery, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils, vehicles and other household items that help the newlyweds set up their home. Dowry is referred to as Dahez in Arabic. In the far eastern parts of India, dowry is called Aaunnpot.
Bride price, bridewealth, or bride token, is money, property, or other form of wealth paid by a groom or his family to the family of the woman he will be married to or is just about to marry. Bride price can be compared to dowry, which is paid to the groom, or used by the bride to help establish the new household, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. Some cultures may practice both dowry and bride price simultaneously. Many cultures practiced bride pricing prior to existing records.
Courtship and marriage in Tudor England (1485–1603) marked the legal rite of passage for individuals as it was considered the transition from youth to adulthood.