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.
The rules of equity and Common Law upon the subject of a married woman's contracts are modified by statute in almost every jurisdiction. Within the scope of the powers conferred upon her by statute her liability is governed by the rules that apply to persons of full capacity.1 Thus within her statutory powers she may make a contract which will result in a lien on her separate property in the same way as anyone of full capacity.2 Without the scope of statutory power her contracts and conveyances are void, no matter what other powers may have been given to her by statute.3 Thus since in Pennsylvania the statutes removing disabilities of married women in general does not apply to their capacity with reference to their separate use trusts, they have under such statutes no more power over such trusts than they had before.4 So an agreement concerning a note given by a married woman cannot change the character of the liability of her separate realty from that shown by the deed executed as required by statute.5 The power of a married woman to make contracts at Modern Law depends therefor upon the phraseology of the statute in the particular jurisdiction whose law is in question, and the construction placed upon it by the courts. No attempt can be made here to give the details of the statutes in the different states or to discuss their effect, state by state. The different statutes can, however, for purposes of convenience be grouped into general classes which can be discussed.
92 Va. 468; 32 L. R. A. 214; 23 S. E. 887.
11 Hartman v. Ogborn, 54 Pa. St. 120; 93 Am. Dec. 679.
12 Yale v. Dederer, 22 N. Y. 450; 78 Am. Dec. 216; Willard v. East-ham, 15 Gray (Mass.) 328; 77 Am. Dec. 366; Wilcox v. Arnold, 116 N. C. 708; 21 S. E. 434.
1 Tarr v. Muir, 107 Ky. 283; 53 S. W. 663; McKell v. Bank, 62 Neb. 608; 87 N. W. 317; Hacketts-town National Bank v. Ming, 52 N. J. Eq. 156; 27 Atl. 920.
2 Tarr v. Muir, 107 Ky. 283; 53 S. W. 663.
3 Haas v. Shaw, 91 Ind. 384; 46 Am. Rep. 607. A statute conferring power to act with reference to her separate estate "does not, expressly or by implication, enlarge a wife's capacity to contract generally." Grand Island Banking Co. v. Wright, 53 Neb. 574, 578; 74 N. W. 82; quoted in Kitchen v. Chapin, 64 Neb. 144, 146; 57 L. R. A. 914; 89 N. W. 632.
4 Holliday v. Hively, 198 Pa. St. 335; 47 Atl. 988.