The relation of parent and child does not of itself give any authority to the child to bind the parent.87 In contracts other than those for the purchase of necessaries the liability of a parent on contracts made by the child depends on the ordinary rules of agency; each case presents its own question of fact.88
How far an infant is empowered by law to impose liability on the parent for the purchase of necessaries, depends in large measure on whether the parent is under a legal obligation to support the child. If the parent is under no legal duty in the matter, the child has no power to bind the parent even for necessaries.89 The existence of such a legal duty frequently depends upon the age and capacity of the minor child to take charge of his own affairs,90 and also upon whether the child is emancipated.91 If in a given case the parent is under an obligation to support and educate a child, one who furnishes on the credit of the parent necessaries to the child which should have been furnished by the parent can recover from the parent;92 but there must be some special need of immediate action or some clear failure on the part of the parent to perform his duty in order to justify furnishing a minor even with necessaries without the parent's assent,93 and if the necessaries are not furnished on the credit of the parent the creditor it seems can in no case recover from him.94
83Burnard v Haggis, 14 C. B. (N. S.) 46; Walley v. Holt, 35 L. T. 631; Homer v. Thwing, 3 Pick. 492; Churchill v. White, 58 Neb. 22, 78 N. W. 369, 76 Am. St. Reports, 64; Eaton v. Hill, 50 N. H. 235, 9 Am. Rep. 189; Stack v. Cavanaugh, 67 N. H. 149, 30 Atl. 350; Campbell v. Stakes, 2 Wend. 137, 19 Am. Dec. 561; Fish v. Ferris, 5 Duer, 49; Moore v. Eastman, 1 Hun, 578; Freeman v. Boland, 14 R. I. 39, 51 Am. Rep. 340; Green v. Sperry, 16 Vt. 390, 42 Am. Dec 619; Towne v. Wiley, 23 Vt. 355, 66 Am. Dec. 85; Ray v. Tubbs, 60 Vt. 688, 28 Am. Rep. 619. See, however, the contrary decisions, Fawcett v. Smethurst, 31 T. L. Rep. 86; Jennings v. Rundalt, 8 T. R. 336; Schenk v. Strong, 1 Southard (N. J.), 87; Penrose v. Curren, 3 Rawle, 361, 24 Am. Dec. 366; Wilt v. Welsh, 6 Watts, 9.
84 Baggy v. Miller, 180 Ia. 1146, 162
N.W.854. But see contra Brunhoelzl v. Brandes, 90 N. J. L. 31, 100 Atl. 163.
85Grove v. Nevill, 1 Keb. 778; Green v. Greenback, 2 Marsh. 485; Prescott v. Norris, 32 N. H. 101; Collins v. GifFord, 203 N. Y. 466, 96 N. E. 721, 38 L. R. A. (N. S.) 202; Gilson v. Spear, 38 Vt. 311; Doran v. Smith, 49 Vt. 363.
86 The fact that in many jurisdictions damages in deceit for an adult's misrepresentations are measured by what the plaintiff would have gained had the misrepresentation been true rather than what he lost from its falsity (see infra, Sec. 1392) may partially account for the indisposition of courts to hold the infant liable.
87 Habhegger v. King, 149 Wis. 1, 135 N. W. 166, 39 L. R. A. (N. S.) 881.
88For cases on this subject see 29 Cyc. 1664, 39 L. R. A. 881, note.