Code of the District of Columbia

§ 19–102. Dower and curtesy abolished.

The estates of dower and curtesy are abolished.


(Sept. 14, 1965, 79 Stat. 694, Pub. L. 89-183, § 1; Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 801(d), 48 DCR 2087; Mar. 2, 2007, D.C. Law 16-191, § 92(a), 53 DCR 6794.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 19-102.

1973 Ed., § 19-102.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-292 rewrote the section which had read:

“(a) The widow of a deceased man, with respect to parties who inter-married prior to November 29, 1957, or the widow or widower of a deceased person dying after March 15, 1962, is entitled to dower and its incidents as the rights thereto were known at common law with respect to widows, including the use, during her or his natural life, of one-third part of all the land on which the deceased spouse was seized of an estate of inheritance at any time during the marriage. The surviving spouse entitled to dower under this section may remain in the chief dwelling house of the decedent 40 days after the death, without being liable for rent therefor, within which period the dower of the surviving spouse, if not previously assigned to her or him, shall be so assigned. In the meantime, the surviving spouse may have reasonable sustenance out of the estate of the decedent.

“(b) The right of dower and its incidents provided for by subsection (a) of this section entitles the widow or widower to lands held by the deceased spouse at any time during the marriage, whether by legal or equitable title, and whether held by the decedent at the time of death, or not, but the right does not operate to the prejudice of a claim for the purchase money of the lands or other lien thereon.

“(c) The right of dower provided for by this section does not attach to lands held by two or more persons as joint tenants while the joint tenancy exists. A husband may not claim a right of dower in land which his wife, during the coverture, conveyed or transferred to another person by her sole deed prior to November 29, 1957.

“(d) With respect to the real estate of a wife dying after November 29, 1957, there is no estate by the curtesy.”

D.C. Law 16-191, in the section credit for D.C. Law 13-292, validated a previously made technical correction.

Cross References

Assignment of dower in partition proceedings, see § 16-2901 et seq.