THERE are other remedies by which wives may enforce their rights against husbands, namely, summary proceedings for maintenance in the police courts and proceedings for divorce or judicial separation or restitution of conjugal rights in the Divorce Court. In the police court orders can be obtained on the ground of (a) desertion, i.e.. actually and wilfully bringing to an end the existing state of co-habitation without the consent of the other spouse and without just and reasonable cause, or (b) conviction of the husband and the infliction on him of a fine of more than £5 or a sentence of more than two months imprisonment for an aggravated assault on his wife; or (c) persistent cruelty on the part of the husband; or (d) wilful neglect by the husband to provide maintenance for his wife or her infant children; or (e) habitual drunkenness or drug-taking by the husband; or () persistent cruelty to the children of the marriage; or (g) insistence on sexual intercourse by a husband suffering from venereal disease; or (h) that the husband has compelled her to submit to prostitution.
In effect an order of the magistrates ends the marriage, though it does not permit the parties to re-marry, and it will be discharged if the wife commits adultery or resumes co-habitation with the husband. It provides that the wife need no longer cohabit with her husband, gives her the custody of the children, and orders the husband to pay a sum of not more than £2 per week towards the maintenance of his wife and a sum of not more than ten shillings per week towards the support of each child. Child includes the wifes illegitimate children or children by a former marriage or adopted children.
A decree of judicial separation made by the Divorce Court is similar to a summary order made by the magistrates, except that the sum ordered to be paid by the husband is much greater. Restitution of conjugal rights is an order of the Court that a man shall return and live with his wife. At one time it was a serious matter for the husband, for if he did not obey he could be cast into gaol for contempt, but now the Court docs not enforce its orders by imprisonment, and all that happens is an order for payment of money for the wifes maintenance (called ahinony) against the husband. Divorce is the most serious event of all in marital relationship. It ends the marriage, but, unless the wife marries again, as she is free to do, it does not necessarily end the husbands obligation to support his wife, for the Court may order him to pay ahinony weekly or monthly, or to secure a gross sum for her benefit. Alimony Either husband or wife may petition for divorce on the ground of adultery by the other spouse, and a wife may also petition on the additional ground of adultery and desertion, or adultery and persistent cruelty. In regard to alimony ordered to be paid by the Divorce Court there is no statutory limit as in the case of separation orders, but, generally speaking, it is a third of the husbands income, though in exceptional cases it may amount to one half.