This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
This principle is not limited, however, to blood relationship. If a son-in-law or daughter-in-law renders services for parents-in law, while members of the same family,1 as by furnishing board and lodging," no implied contract exists by reason of such facts alone. The same principle applies to mutual services rendered between step-parents and step-children.3 Thus, if a step-father voluntarily supports his step-children,4 or a stepchild voluntarily renders services for a step-father,5 no implied contract exists. Accordingly, if a step-daughter renders services to the family, in reliance upon a promise made by her mother that she should receive compensation for such services, she cannot recover from the estate of her step-father for such services unless it can be shown that he not only knew that the promise had been made, but that he also knew that she continued to render such services upon such promise.6 The principle that a contract for compensation is not implied between a step-father and step-daughter, has been carried so far that an attorney who procured a divorce for his step-daughter, who at that time was living in his family and rendering domestic services, could not recover therefor four years after. In the meantime, however, he had set up claims for certain disbursements made by him in a foreclosure suit brought by her, but had not made any claim for such legal services.7 However, a step-father who supports his step-children on his wife's land undertakes their support only by his labor as applied to their property. Hence in an action by them against him to recover railroad ties, made from timber growing on such land, he may counter-claim for their support.8
12 Castle v. Edwards. 63 Mo. App. 564; Murphy v. Murphy, 1 S. D. 316; 9 L. R. A. 820; 47 N. W. 142; Jackson v. Jackson. 96 Va. 165; 31 S. E. 78,
13Neal v. Gilmore, 79 Pa. St. 421.
1Hinkle v. Sage, 67 0. S. 256; 65 N. E. 999.
2 Mariner v. Collins, 5 Harr. (Del.) 290; Thompson v. Halstead, 44 W. Va. 390; 29 S. E. 991; Schmidt's Estate, 93 Wis. 120; 67 N. W. 37.
3 Kirehgassner v. Rodick. 170 Mass. 543; 49 N. E. 1015; Williams v. Hutchinson. 3 N. Y. 312; 53 Am. Dec. 301; Ellis v. Cary, 74 Wis. 176; 17 Am. St. Rep. 125; 4 L. R. A. 55; 42 N. W. 252.
4 Livingston v. Hammond, 162 Mass. 375; 38 N. E. 968; Haggerty v. McCanna, 25 N. J. Eq. 48.
5 Harris v. Smith. 79 Mich. 54; 6 L. R. A. 702: 44 X. W. 169.
6Harris v. Smith. 79 Mich. 54; 6 L. R. A. 702; 44 N. W. 169.
Similar principles apply where services are rendered between brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and the like, while members of one family.9