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MAYNARD V.

HILL
125 U.S. 190 (1888)

Parties
L Maynard (π) was the wife of David Maynard.

Legal Claim/Defense

Procedural History/Facts
 In 1828, D and L Maynard were married; D left family in Ohio and started overland in
CA under a promise he would either return or send for her and the child, and he would
send her money. D did neither.
 D met a woman; he settled upon and claimed (as a married man) 640 acres.
 D petitioned the legislature for a bill of divorce; it was granted in 1852.
 In 1853, he married the new woman & a lawsuit arose about the property.

Issue
1. Whether the act of legislation, declaring the bonds of matrimony between D and L
dissolved, was valid and effectual to divorce the parties?
2. If the act was valid and effectual, whether such divorce defeated any rights of the wife
(L) to a portion of the donation claim?

Holding
1. Yes, the act of legislation was valid and effectual to divorce the parties because the
legislature controls various aspects of marriage.
2. Yes, the divorce defeated any rights of the wife to a portion of the claims.
Marriage is more than a contract  it creates a relation between the parties that cannot be
changed. Marriage is an institution, a social relationship comparable to that between a parent and
a child.

Reasoning
1. Yes, the act of legislation was valid and effectual to divorce the parties.
 Marriage has always been a subject to the control of the legislature.
 Legislature may prescribe the age at which parties may marry, procedure or form
essential to constitute marriage, the duties and obligations it creates, its effects upon
property rights of both, and the acts which may constitute grounds for dissolution.
2. Yes, the divorce defeated any rights of the wife to a portion of the claims.
 Knowledge/ignorance of parties of intended legislation does not affects its validity, if
within the competency of the legislature.
 The husband’s conduct can have no bearing upon the power to pass the act.
 Marriage is more than a control; law holds parties in marriage to various obligations and
liabilities – it is an institution for it is the foundation of family and society.