EXCEPTIONS BY STATUTE - (d) In most jurisdictions, the common-law disabilities of married women have been virtually removed by statute.
At common law, as a rule, a married woman is without capacity to enter into a valid contract. Her contracts are absolutely void.66 It makes no difference whether she is living with her husband or not.67 An agreement of separation, for instance, by which the husband has secured to his wife a separate maintenance, it is said, cannot change their legal relationship so as to render her liable on her contracts;68 nor can the fact that a wife has deserted her husband, prejudice. See "Bills and Notes," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 66; Cent. Dig. §§ 91,5, 946.
66 Jackson v. Vanderheyden, 17 Johns. (N. Y.) 167, 8 Am. Dec. 378; Martin v. Dwelly, 6 Wend. (N. Y.) 9, 21 Am. Dec. 245; Smith v. Plomer, 15 East, 607; Manby v. Scott, 2 Smith, Lead. Cas. 375; Mackinley v. McGregor, 3 Whart (Pa.) 369, 31 Am. Dec. 522; Tracy v. Keith, 11 Allen (Mass.) 214; Morris v. Norfolk, 1 Taunt. 212; Muslck v. Dodson, 76 Mo. 624. 43 Am. Rep. 780; Dobbin v. Hubbard, 17 Ark. 189, 65 Am. Dec. 425; Palmer v. Oakley, 2 Doug. (Mich.) 433, 47 Am. Dec. 41; Hollis v. Francois, 5 Tex. 195, 51 Am. Dec. 760; Stevens v. Parish, 29 Ind. 260, 95 Am. Dec. 636; Burton v. Marshall, 4 Gill (Md.) 4S7, 45 Am. Dec. 171; Hayward v. Barker, 52 Vt 429, 36 Am. Rep. 762; Porterfield v. Butler, 47 Miss. 165, 12 Am. Rep. 329; Caldwell v. Walters, 18 Pa. 79, 55 Am. Dec. 592; Pond v. Carpenter, 12 Minn. 430 (Gil. 315); Farrar v. Bessey, 24 Vt. 89; Howe v. Wildes, 34 Me. 566; Young v. Paul, 10 N. J. Eq. 404, 64 Am. Dec. 456; Tucker v. Cocke, 32 Miss. 184; Thompson v. Warren, 8 B. Mon. (Ky.) 488. And see cases cited in Ewell, Lead. Cas. 312. See "Husband and Wife," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 79; Cent. Dig. §§ 317-323.
67Harris v. Taylor, 3 Sneed (Tenn.) 536, 67 Am. Dec. 576. Contra: Love v. Moynehan, 16 I11. 277, 63 Am. Dec. 306. See "Husband and Wife," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) §§ 65, 79; Cent. Dig. §§ 287, 2S8, 317-323.
68 Marshall v. Rutton, 8 Term R. 545. See "Husband and Wife," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) §§ 65-67; Cent. Dig. §§ 285-2S9.
and is living in adultery, render her liable.88 Even a divorce a mensa et thoro does not give a woman power to bind herself by contract at common law,70 though this is very generally changed by statute. The contracts of a married woman, being absolutely void, may not be rendered valid by ratification by her after the removal of the disability of coverture, as by the death of her husband 71 or by statute.72
As a rule, a married woman is liable for her torts, including her frauds, and may be sued in respect of such acts, jointly with her husband, or separately if she survives him; but, as in the case of infants, she cannot even be sued for her fraud where it is directly connected with her contract, and is part of the same transaction, though it is otherwise if the fraud is not connected with her contract.73 False representations by a married woman that she is unmarried, or a widow, to induce a person to contract with her, will not estop her from pleading her coverture when sued upon the contract, though, like an infant under similar circumstances, she would no doubt be liable in an action for deceit.74