In some cases, as considered below, one person may bind another without the consent of the other, and even against his protest. But this is a liability imposed by law and is not true agency. See following sections.
A wife is given by law the authority to bind her1 husband for necessaries, where she is not, in her own fault, living apart from him, and the husband is not actually supplying her.
18. See contracts in this series.
A husband is bound to supply his wife with necessaries and if he does not provide her, she has authority to bind him in the purchase of such necessaries. And this authority he cannot revoke, unless she is living apart from him on account of her own fault. If she is actually supplied, then, of course, she cannot bind the husband. Accordingly a merchant who supplies a wife goods on the credit of her husband, must take the risk that she is not already being supplied with her needs, unless he relies on an implied authority of the wife to bind the husband, growing out of the special circumstances. For there may be quite an extensive authority on the part of the wife to bind the husband, quite apart from this authority conferred by law, growing out of each case, as where the husband as a practice permits the wife to trade in his name, and that is her custom. That authority he may at any time revoke. But the authority to bind him for her necessaries which he is not supplying cannot be revoked. If he absents himself from her, the authority to bind him still continues.
What constitutes a necessary depends on circumstances. The station in life is to be considered. Yet a thing is not a necessary except it have reference to actual needs, as food, clothes, fuel, lodging, medicine, etc.
The law confers no authority upon the child to bind the parent. But authority to bind the parent may be implied from the circumstances.
The law does not confer authority on the child to bind the parent, though under the circumstances of any particular case that authority might be readily inferred.19
19. Hunt v. Thompson, 3 Scam. (111.) 179; 36 Am. Dec. 538.
In fact from very slight circumstances the courts will find an authority for the child to bind the parent for his necessaries.
In some states a statutory liability is provided that either husband or wife may be held for family expenses.
In some states, the statute has provided substantially to the effect that any purchases of articles for household or family use are binding upon either wife or husband.