The doctrine of interspousal immunity, established at early common law, considers husband and wife legally one. Under this view of unity, each spouse is precluded procedurally as well as substantively from suing the other in tort. To ameliorate the harshness of this view, the Married Women's Acts or Emancipation Acts were promulgated beginning in 1844. Although these statutes removed some of the disabilities of coverture from women in all of the fifty states, the majority of the statutes, including Virginia's, did not grant one spouse the right to sue the other for a personal tort. As early as 1888, the Virginia Supreme Court interpreted the Virginia Married Women's Act as being supportive of personal tort immunity between husband and wife. Subsequent cases upheld this interpretation as not expressly, nor by implication, giving the wife the right to sue her husband for personal torts.

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