Putnam's Handy Law Book for the Layman

Curtesy. - A husband acquires an interest or estate in land belonging to his wife after her death. [102]To be entitled to it, there must be a legal marriage. Even though it be unlawful, if not set aside during her life, his interest in her estate cannot be defeated by afterwards declaring the marriage void. Curtesy does not extend to land nominally held by her, or as trustee. The wife must have had a child who might have inherited the estate. It is immaterial whether she acquired her estate before or after the birth of the child. As soon therefore as a child is born, his estate or interest begins and is perfected or consummated by her death, and may be taken at any time afterward for his debts. What may be the effect of a divorce is not well settled. In some states even though he is an innocent party, he forfeits his estate. This rule is founded on the idea that he is a voluntary party, and therefore need not have one; in other states his interest continues. As the husband's rights to such an estate have been abolished in many states, we refrain from adding more principles.


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