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POST AND ANTE-NUPTIAL SETTLEMENTS

(From the Ncio Zealand Herald). " The bankrupt, a few months previous to his declaration of insolvency, had settled the whole of his property on his wife, who is now m another part of the colony, by which the estate has been deprived of what would have constituted a very large asset." Such are the words we quote from a Dunedin morning paper, as a conclnding paragraph of a report of the official trustee, m a case where the insolvent came up to apply for a final release from his pecuniary liabilities This is no solitary case, for we read from week to week of many similar to it. Men, m anticipation of what may happen, oftentimes what they know is certain to happen, release upon their assets, which are more frequently the property of their ci editors j than their own. The proci eds from these' they " settle " on their wives, and then snap their fingers at their creditors. This was for long a time-honored fashion m Victoria, until the Legislature interfered and sunounded it with obstacles that were troublesome, and penalties that were dangerous to the liberty of the subject. Post-nuptial settlements are now becoming so common m this Colony, and made for such obvious purposes — that of defrauding creditors that we trust to see the question of the right of permitting such convenient arrangements between a man and his wife discussed m the present session of the Assembly, m order that Legislative action may be taken : for we know of nothing which more conduces to reckless trading, commercial dishonesty, or wild speculation, than these mamaije settlements. A man, without he is wellprincipled, seldom draws up m his trading pursuits upon finding his affairs upon the debit side of profit and loss. He is " all right " because should " matters come to the worst," his wife's property, or her income, will always enable him to maintain a comfortable position. It appears to us there is something so ultra dishonest m this, and worse still, because it is so common, and looked upon as a sort of matter of course, that the machinery of our Legislature should at once be set m motion to prevent a continuance of the wrong. Ante-nuptial settlements may on occasions be proper enough ; because a woman may say that she will only give herself away upon certain conditions bein^ fulfilled m her interest, or m the interests of the offspring which may

follow her marriage. She, m fine, makes a bargain, and states the condition upon which she will only enter upon the married state. Exception, perhaps, may not he taken against an arrangement bo very prudent on the part of the female. But, as a rule, ante-nuptial settlements are proposed by the man He says, m instance, " I cannot tell what may happen to me m my business career, so I shall protect myself against my creditors by settlin ' all I possess upon my wife." An arrangement of this kind is equally dishonest ; and there something very cowardly m a man who can allow the claims of his creditors to be ignored while he hangs on to the skirts of his wife as his support m after life. "We may also assert that few right-minded women will care to see the honor and credit of a husband compromised if she haß the means herself of redeeming either or both. We believe that m nine cases out of ten such settlemeuts as we have referred to are made by men with the intention to defraud their creditors; and m the interest of creditors, and m that of commercial morality, we urge that these settlements m the future should be declared illegal. A husband is by law responsible for the liabilities his wife may incur during coverture — for Ler extravagances, her reckless or unnecessary expenditure — and it is but right that the wife to the full extent of her property should be made responsible for the liabilities of her husband, no matter how they may have been incurred. There is also another evil connected with such settlement. They are invariably kept a profound secret. A'Jen make it understood that their present position is due to themselves; that they live upon their own Dieans and are independent of the world, and so manage to obtain a large amount of credit, which would not be given if it were known that an estate meant sim ply a wife's income under a marriage settlement. It is not a pleasant sight, but it is one not altogether unknown to Auckland, to see a ruined creditor walking the streets broken down m body and mind, while his debtor rides past him secure from consequences by ";my wife's marriage settlement." We trust to see the subject rank as one among others which will be taken up when the question of "Law Reform " is introduced into the Assembly, as was promised m the last session.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/MEX18730813.2.12

Bibliographic details

Marlborough Express, Marlborough Express, Volume VIII, Issue 526, 13 August 1873

Word Count
825

POST AND ANTE-NUPTIAL SETTLEMENTS Marlborough Express, Volume VIII, Issue 526, 13 August 1873

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