AN ACT concerning divorces, and for other purposes.
Passed the 16th of February, 1820.
1. BE IT ENACTED by the Council and General Assembly of the state, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the court of chancery, shall have jurisdiction of all causes of divorce, and of alimony or maintenance, by this bill directed and allowed; provided the parties, complainant and defendant, or either of them, were or shall be inhabitants of this state, at the time of the injury, desertion, or neglect complained of, or where marriage shall have been solemnized or taken place within this state, and the complainant shall have been an actual resident in this state, at the time of the injury, desertion, or neglect complained of, and at the time of exhibiting the bill; or where the adultery was committed in this state, and the parties, complainant and defendant, or either of them, reside in this state at the time of exhibiting the bill; provided such complainant shall make his or her oath or affirmation, to be annexed to the bill of complaint, that his or her complaint is not made by any collusion between him or her, and the defendant, for the purpose of dissolving their marriage, but in truth and good faith for the causes set forth in the bill of complaint.
‘2. And be it enacted, That the like process and course of practice and procedure, shall be had and pursued in all such causes, as are usually had and pursued in other causes, on the equity side of the said court, except that the answer of defendants shall be under oath.
3. And be it enacted, That divorces from the bond of matrimony, shall be decreed where either of the parties had another wife or husband living at the time of such second or other marriage; and that all marriages, where either of the parties shall have a former husband or wife, living at the time of such marriage shall be invalid from the beginning, and absolutely void, and the issue thereof shall be deemed to be illegitimate, and subject all the legal disabilities of such issue.
4. And be it enacted, That divorces from the bond of matrimony, may be decreed, in case the parties are within the degrees prohibited by law, and in case of adultery in either of the parties; and also for wilful, continued and obstinate desertion for the term of five years; but the decree or sentence of divorce in such cases, shall not render illegitimate, the issue of any marriage so dissolved.
5. And be it enacted, That if it appear to the court that the', adultery complained of, shall have been occasioned by the collusion of the parties, anti clone with an intention to procure a dr vorce, or that the complainant was consenting thereto, or that both parties have been guilty of adultery, then no divorce slid be decreed.
6. And be it enacted, That if any persons, who shall be divorced on account of their being within the prohibited degrees; shall, after such divorce, cohabit together, such persons, so offending, shall be liable to all the pains and penalties provided by the then existing laws against incest.
7. And he it enacted, That if any persons shall cohabit or live together in the same house, after a divorce for the cause of adultery or prior marriage, such persons, so offending, shall be liable to all the pains and penalties provided by the laws against adultery.
8. And be it enacted, That for extreme cruelty in either of the parties, the court of chancery may decree a divorce from bed board for ever thereafter, or for a limited time, as shall seem just and reasonable.
9. And be it enacted, That when a divorce shall be decreed, it shall and may be lawful for the court of chancery, to take such order touching the alimony and maintenance of the wife; and also touching the care and maintenance of the children, or any of them, by the said husband, as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case. shall be fit, reasonable and just; and in case the wife is the complainant, to order the defendant give reasonable security for such alimony and maintenance; and upon his neglect or refusal to give such reasonable security as shall be required of him, or upon default of him and his surety, if any there be, to pay or provide such alimony and maintenance, to award and issue process for the immediate sequestration of the defendant's personal estate, and the rents and profits of his real estate, and to appoint a receiver thereof, and cause such personal estate, and the rents and profits of such real estate, or so much thereof as shall be necessary to be applied towards such maintenance and allowance, or to such maintenance and allowance as to the said court shall, from time to time, seem reasonable and just, or to enforce the performance of the said decree or order by such other lawful ways and means as is usual, and according to the course and practice of the court of chancery.
10. And be it enacted, That in case a husband, without any justifiable cause, shall abandon his wife, or separate himself from her, and refuse or neglect to maintain and provide for her, it shall and may be lawful for the court of chancery to decree and order such suitable support and maintenance to be paid and provide by the said husband, for the wife and her children, or any of them by that marriage, or out of his property, and for such time as the nature of the case and the circumstances of the parties render suitable and proper in the opinion of the court, and to compel the defendant to give reasonable security for such maintenance and allowance; and, from time to time, to make such further orders touching the same, as shall be just and equitable, and to enforce such decree and orders, in the manner mentioned in the last preceding section of this act. But during the time such maintenance shall be allowed by the decree or sentence of the court, the husband shall not be chargeable with her debts.
11. And be it enacted, That in any such suit as is mentioned in the last preceding section, it shall and may be lawful for the chancellor, if applied for before answer filed, to order a bond to be given in one hundred dollars, by one or more sufficient freeholders, with condition to pay such costs as shall or may be awarded by the court to be paid to the defendant.
12. And be it enacted, That the act, entitled "An act concerning divorce and alimony," passed the second day of December, seventeen hundred and ninety‑four; and the act, entitled “A supplement to the act entitled an act concerning divorce ad alimony," passed the fourth day of March, seventeen hundred ninety‑five; and the act, entitled "An act concerning divorces and for other purposes," passed the third day of February eighteen hundred and eighteen, be, and they are hereby reed: Provided nevertheless, That such repeal shall, not affect proceedings now depending by virtue of the before mentioned acts, or either of them, but the same may be continued and proceeded upon as if this act had not been passed.