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La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1790, as formerly enacted, only prevented interspousal commutative contracts, La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1768, by which each spouse does, gives or promises to do or give something for or to the other. La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1790 did not prevent either simple interspousal donations, which are expressly authorized by La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1743, or givings in payment, La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2446.
The ex-husband was living with a mistress part of the time. He desired to obtain a quick divorce from the ex-wife and marry the mistress. He therefore transferred their home and furniture to the ex-wife for $ 10. The district court annulled the sale on the grounds that contracts between spouses during marriage were forbidden. La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1790. The ex-wife appealed.
Is this case within the exception to C.C. 1790 provided by C.C. 2446(2), allowing an interspousal transfer "When the transfer made by the husband to his wife, even though not separated, has a legitimate cause, as the replacing of her dotal or other effects alienated"?
Reversing the trial court's annulment of the transfer, the court held that the transfer was authorized as being supported by a "legitimate cause" under La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2446(2). The ex-husband's breach of the marital obligation created a natural obligation in him to his ex-wife, as described in La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1758(1). The ex-husband evidently recognized the injury he had caused the ex-wife and felt the natural obligation to make reparation (in addition to which he wanted a quick and clean divorce that would not involve the other woman). Most important, he in fact did discharge this natural obligation by executing the deed to the house. La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1759 prevented his suing to get it back.