Washington Law Review


Cyril Hill


Twenty years prior to statehood, the legislature of the Territory of Washington adopted the Community Property System. For nearly seventy years the courts have struggled with its provisions. Although the original act was copied largely from a statute adopted in California in 1850, such changes have been made, that the system in Washington may be regarded as unique. The adoption of the system in its present form was not accomplished by one stroke of the pen. Rather, it has had a checkered career. The original statute passed in 1869 was followed by a marital partnership property act approved November 29, 1871, which in turn was repealed effective November 5, 1873. Nine days later, an act substantially the same as the statute of 1869, was approved. This was modified in 1879. Slight amendments designed to clarify the system followed in later years. For approximately seventeen years, and since the organization of the Territory in 1853 the common law had been followed in governing the property interests of married persons. Dower and courtesy were recognized from the first, even provided for as late as the statutes of 1869, and were not abolished until 1871.

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