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Husband and Wife

Support, Property, Sexual Relationship, Crimes, Privileged Communication, Domestic Abuse, Same-sex Marriage

A man and woman who are legally married to one another and are thereby given by law specific rights and duties resulting from that relationship.

The U.S. legal concept of marriage is founded in English COMMON LAW. Under common law, when a man and woman married, they became a single person in the eyes of the law—that person being the husband. The duties and benefits afforded a married woman, as well as the restrictions on her freedom, reflected this view. Even today, although the Equal Protection Clause provides that no state shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the EQUAL PROTECTION of the laws" (U.S. Const. amend. 14, § 1), the U.S. Supreme Court has never interpreted this to mean that states must treat husbands and wives the same.

There is a strong public policy in favor of marriage. Because of this, a husband and wife are not always able to determine their duties and privileges toward one another; instead, these rights and responsibilities are set forth by special legal principles that define the parameters within which husbands and wives must act.

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