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Prince v. Prince

A Step Up

Colonial marriages were easy to make but hard to end. A man and woman could marry by simply agreeing to live together. Even couples who preferred a religious ceremony did not need to follow formal procedures. However, different colonies granted divorce either rarely or not at all. New Englanders were granted divorce for adultery, cruelty, and desertion. However, divorce with the right to remarry was illegal throughout the South. Legal separations took their place--without the right to remarry. South Carolina was particularly rigid, refusing to grant divorces even for a husband's adultery. To allow a woman the right to divorce her husband for his extramarital affairs insulted her husband's honor.

Prince v. Prince was a step forward for wives in the state. It set a precedent for helping wives financially when husbands abandoned them. Earlier law required husbands to support their estranged wives, but only if the men owned property from which to pay.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Prince v. Prince - A Step Up, An Informal Marriage, The Court Investigates, Prenuptial Agreements