1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Conjugal Rights

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CONJUGAL RIGHTS, those rights which a husband and wife (Lat. conjux) have to each other’s society. When either party continues to refuse to render these rights to the other, they may be enforced by a suit for the restitution of conjugal rights. In England the jurisdiction which the old ecclesiastical courts exercised to enforce this right was transferred to the divorce court by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857. The procedure is by citation and petition, but, before a petition can be filed, a written demand must be made to the refusing party for cohabitation. Previous to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1884, disobedience to a decree for the restitution of conjugal rights rendered the refusing party liable to attachment and imprisonment. The act of 1884 substituted for attachment, if the wife be the petitioner, an order for periodical payments by the husband to the wife. Failure to comply with a decree for restitution is deemed to be desertion, and a sentence of judicial separation may be pronounced, although the period of two years prescribed by the act of 1857 may not have expired. Conjugal rights cannot be enforced by the act of either party (R. v. Jackson, 1891, 1 Q.B. 671), the proper procedure being to apply to the court for relief.