Head-and-Master Rule Law and Legal Definition

Head and master rule is a doctrine that the husband alone is authorized to manage community property. Community property system is followed in some U.S states like Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsisn. In this system, everything a husband and wife acquire once they are married is owned equally (fifty-fifty) by both of them, regardless of who provided the money to purchase the asset or whose name the asset is held in, with the exception of inheritances, specific gifts to one of the spouses, and property and profits clearly traceable to property owned before marriage, all of which is separate property. This rule is not of much relevance now and has been declared unconstitutional gender-based discrimination by many courts. For example, Louisiana had statutorily terminated the "head and master" rule and substituted an equal management rule in its place. [1979 La.Acts, No. 709 (effective Jan. 1, 1980), revising Book III, Title VI of the Louisiana Civil Code (Matrimonial Regimes).]

This rule is also known as lord-and-master rule or equal-management rule.