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Q: Can a wife enter into a legal contract in her husband's name without his consent ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Can a wife enter into a legal contract in her husband's name without his consent
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: ryan9999-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 30 Sep 2006 14:05 PDT
Expires: 30 Oct 2006 13:05 PST
Question ID: 769758
In Texas, can a wife enter into a legal contract in her husband's name
without his consent?  For example - I had a Sprint mobile phone in my
name that was used by my wife.  The contract was month-to-month.  She
called Sprint a year ago to change service and states that she was
enver told she was renewing a contract.  I tried to cancel the
contract and am told she renewed it on my behalf.  I read the
SprintPCS terms and conditions and do not see that by giving another
use of my phone I take responsibility for anything other than charges
they incur.  So my question is, can my wife enter into a contract in
my name without my authorization (we live in Texas).
Subject: Re: Can a wife enter into a legal contract in her husband's name without his consent
Answered By: weisstho-ga on 30 Sep 2006 15:32 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for visiting us and bringing this issue up. Of course this sort
of thing happens way too often and it is a complex and somewhat
confusing area of law.

A person enters into a contract generally by making an offer (which
the other party accepts), or accepting the offer of another. In your
case it appears that you originally entered into that contract with
Sprint. You know that.

Enter wife. 

The Supreme Court of Texas, just this past June, issued an opinion in
the case of Willis v. Donnelly, 49 Tex Sup J 661 (June 2, 2006)
that cites the following in footnote 9:

?Generally, ratification is a doctrine of agency law, and allows a
principal to be bound by an agent's unauthorized contract in
circumstances where the principal becomes aware of the contract and
retains benefits under it. Ratification presupposes that the principal
has an agent who, by agreement, is authorized to act on the
principal's behalf.?

Here is what Sprint would say:  You are the ?principal? and your wife
appeared to Sprint as your ?agent.?  Even though she may not have been
authorized by you, you became aware of her action and YOU RETAINED THE

You have said in your question that you objected ? how? By cancelling
the contract. You would then say that you did not specifically
authorize your wife to act in your place; you did not authorize her to
be your agent.

There is one major fact question here . . . when did you know, or when
should you have known, when that contract was extended or renewed? 
How long thereafter did you notify Sprint? Short time ? say a week? 
You probably win.  Longer time ? say a month ? Sprint probably wins.

The problem is how you get this done. You quit paying Sprint, they put
you into collections and you take a big ding to your credit rating.
Yes, you might ultimately win, and after a whole bunch of letters to
Sprint, the credit agencies, the Texas Attorney General (after
everyone ignores your requests and demands) . . . you get the picture.

BUT, are you right ? well, no person can say for sure ? except a
judge. But you probably are right, depending on how long between the
time you knew (or should have known) about the extension and the time
you objected.

How to best proceed?  Write a letter to Sprint explaining (1) wife was
not authorized to speak for you, (2) even if she did she didn't
understand the effect, since it was your account, (3) she was not your
"agent", and (4) you did not retain the benefit of any renewal as you
timely objected. Keep copies and demand a reply from Sprint as to how
they will proceed. If you get too much flack from Sprint you might
want to consider filing a complaint with the Consumer Protection
Division of the Texas Attorney General:

Interesting case. Thanks for giving it to us. 

If you have any additional question, PLEASE hit the CLARIFICATION
button and I will get back to you.



Search Strategy:

Agency Law
Texas Supreme Court
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