Jackson v. Jackson
91 U.S. 122 (1875)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Jackson v. Jackson, 91 U.S. 122 (1875)

Jackson v. Jackson

91 U.S. 122

Syllabus

1. Although, by the common law, the money which the wife has at the time of her marriage, not secured to her by a settlement or contract, and that which she subsequently earns, belong to the husband, it is competent and lawful for him to allow its investment in the purchase and improvement of real property for her separate use if the rights of existing creditors are not thereby impaired.

2. The doctrine of resulting trusts has no application to an investment of this kind; it constitutes a voluntary settlement upon the wife, whether made through the husband or directly by the wife with his consent.

3. A divorce granted to the wife for cruel treatment by the husband is not of itself sufficient reason for awarding to him any portion of the property thus settled upon her.

This is a case of divorce. The parties were married on the 25th of November, 1856, in the District of Columbia, where they then and ever since have resided. Each prayed for a dissolution of the marriage contract for the alleged misconduct of the other. The appellee, in his cross-bill, set up that the appellant held in her individual name the title to certain real estate in said District which had been acquired and paid for since their marriage with his money and earnings, and prayed that she be decreed to convey the same to him.

The appellant's answer to the cross-bill alleged that the land had been purchased with money received from her father's estate, and from the proceeds of her own industry and savings.

The cause being set down for hearing, the court found as a matter of fact that the appellee was guilty of cruel treatment, as charged in the appellant's bill; that the cause of divorce in the cross-bill mentioned was not made out; and that the property was in part acquired and paid for with money belonging to the appellant at the time of her marriage, and for the rest with moneys earned by the joint efforts of said parties.

The court thereupon decreed that the married relations between the parties be dissolved; that the title to the property be held by the appellee in trust for both parties; and that, from the date of the decree, the appellant should hold, as of her own absolute right, a specifically described portion thereof, and convey in fee simple the remainder to the appellee.

Page 91 U. S. 123

From so much of the decree as relates to the property, the plaintiff below appealed to the general term of said supreme court. The decree being affirmed, an appeal was taken to this Court.

There is no conflict in the proofs as to the purchase of the real estate by the appellant with the money which she possessed at the time of her marriage. The rent of the house which was then standing on the property, and her earnings, were used in the erection of the additional buildings; but the evidence adduced by the appellee tended to show that a part of his earnings was applied to the same purpose.

The appellant took the deed in her own name, paid taxes on the property, caused it to be insured, and managed and controlled it as her own separate estate, with the full knowledge and consent of the appellee.

The common law as to the rights of a married woman to real or personal property belonging to her at the time of her marriage, or thereafter acquired, prevailed in said District until April 20, 1869, when an act was passed to regulate such rights. 16 Stat. 45.

The ninth section of the "Act to authorize divorces in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes," approved June 19, 1860, 12 Stat. 59, provides

"That in all cases where a divorce is granted, the court allowing the same shall have power, if it see fit, to award alimony to the wife and to retain her right of dower, and to award to the wife such property, or the value thereof, as she had when she was married, or such part, or the value thereof, as the court may deem reasonable, having a regard to the circumstances of the husband at the time of the divorce."

The above provisions, except insofar as they relate to alimony and the right of dower, appear not to have been reenacted in the Revised Statutes.

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