Marriage and law

MARRIAGE, from which springs the home, has been defined by a celebrated English judge as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. It is a contract, but it is a contract different from all other contracts known to English law, regulated by a vast body of statutes, and more far-reaching and complex in its effects than any other contract which a person can make. The status of married persons is in law unlike that of those unmarried, and vastly different are their responsibilities. From the date of marriage the affairs of husband and wifo are closely watched by the State, which alone can sever the marriage tie by a decree of divorce or of nullity, and which regulates the observance of the marital responsibilities, if the need arise, by imprisonment or monetary strictures.

Contracts are agreements which the law will enforce either by ordering them to be performed or by giving damages for their breach. In this respect the contract of marriage is like any other contract. An action for breach of a promise to marry can be brought either by a man or woman, and in assessing damages the jury may award a sum for injury to the pride and feelings as well as loss of a possible home and position in life. In such actioas the promise to marry can be proved by conduct. There need not be evidence of a verbal promise and acceptance, so long as the inference can be drawn from the behaviour of the parties or from letters that they intended to marry each other.

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