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.
Another class of cases illustrating this general principle exists where one who furnishes necessaries to a wife whose husband refuses or omits to supply them may recover from him.1 While this liability is often explained on the theory of the wife's implied agency as if it were a genuine implied contract, it is wider than that. If the husband does not supply his wife with necessaries he is liable even if the circumstances negative his assent, as where he deserts her,2 or drives her away. So he is liable even if she is incapable of acting as agent, as where she is insane.3 So the husband is liable where the circumstances show that the party furnishing the necessaries had no intention of contracting with the husband, as where he does not know that the woman is married,4 as long as he does not furnish necessaries on the exclusive credit of the woman. The fact that the married woman has property of her own does not defeat her husband's liability for her necessaries as long as such necessaries are not furnisher on her credit alone.5 The husband is not liable unless he has refused to furnish his wife with necessaries,6 and to make provision therefor. Even if the husband and wife have separated, he is not liable to third persons for her support as long as he has made a reasonable provision therefor.7 So if a husband is willing to support an insane wife, and demands her custody in good faith, the authorities of an asylum who refuse to surrender her cannot thereafter recover from him.8 However, if the husband refuses to allow his wife to live with him, she is not bound to receive support at a place indicated by him, but may select any reasonable place where the expense of her support is not disproportionate to her husband's income and he is bound to support her there.9 If the separation is due to the wife's aggression her husband is not liable for her support.10 The husband is not liable unless the goods furnished are necessaries.11 What are necessaries is in many cases a relative term, depending on the social standing, financial condition and style of living of the parties. It undoubtedly includes board, lodging and necessary clothing,12 medical attendance of a regular physician,13 services of a dentist,14 and in proper cases, services of an attorney where necessary for her protection, especially where her husband prefers unfounded charges against her.15 Legal services in a divorce suit, however, are in many jurisdictions fixed by the court before which the divorce is pending and are provided for by an allowance of alimony.16 Reasonable funeral services for burying the body of a married woman are necessaries chargeable against her husband.17 Where alimony has been allowed and paid a husband is not liable to persons who thereafter furnish his wife with necessaries.18 Money loaned to a married woman and by her expended for necessaries is not treated as a necessary at Common Law and her husband is not liable therefor.19 But in equity one who has loaned money to a married woman may recover from her husband so much thereof as has been actually expended by her for necessaries at a reasonable price, if the circumstances are such that he could have recovered for the necessaries had he furnished them directly to her.20 But this rule has been held not to apply where the husband has by reason of sickness been unable to furnish necessaries to his wife ;21 and has been denied altogether.22 The principle here involved is analogous to that controlling in loans to an infant.23
12 Shaw v. Hallihan, 46 Vt. 389; 14 Am. Rep. 628. "
1 St. Vincent's Hospital v. Davis, 129 Cal. 20; 61 Pac. 477; St. John's Parish v. Bronson. 40 Conn. 75; 16 Am. Rep. 17; Rariden v. Mason, 30 Ind. App. 425; 65 X. E. 554; Thorpe v. Shapleigh, 67 Me. 235; Eames v. Sweetser, 101 Mass. 78.
2 Prescott v. Webster. 175 Mass. 316; 56 X. E. 577; East v. King, 77 Miss. 738; 27 So. 608.
3 St. Vincent's Institution v. Davis. 129 Cal. 20; 61 Pac. 477.
4 St. Vincent's Institution v. Davis, 129 Cal. 20; 61 Pac. 477.
5Ott v. Hentall, 70 N. H. 231; 51 L. R. A. 226; 47 Atl. 80.
6 S. E. Olson Co. v. Youngquist, 76 Minn. 26; 78 N. W. 870; Bergh v. Warner, 47 Minn. 250; 28 Am. St. Rep. 362; 50 N. W. 77.
7 Crittenden v. Schermerhorn. 39 Mich. 661; 33 Am. Rep. 440; Har-shaw v. Merryman, 18 Mo. 106; Cory v. Cook, 24 R. I. 421; 53 Atl. 315; Hunt v. Hayes, 64 Vt. 89; 33 Am. St. Rep. 917; 15 L. R. A. 661; 23 Atl. 920.
8 St. Vincent's Institution v. Davis, 129 Cal. 17; 61 Pac. 476.
9 Kirk v. Chinstrand, 85 Minn. 108; 56 L. R. A. 333; 88 N. W. 422.
10 Peaks v. Mayhew, 94 Me. 571; 48 Atl. 172.
11 S. E. Olson Co. v. Youngquist, 72 Minn. 432; 75 N. W. 727; af firmed, 76 Minn. 26; 78 N. W. 870.
12 01tman v. Yost, 62 Minn. 261; 64 N. W. 564.
13Bevier v. Galloway, 71 111. 517; Tebbetts v. Hapgood, 34 N. H. 420.
14 Freeman v. Holmes, 62 Ga. 556.
15 Conant v. Burnham, 133 Mass. 503; 43 Am. Rep. 532.