A generic term for any type of legal duty or liability.
In its original sense, the term obligation was very technical in nature and applied to the responsibility to pay money owed on certain written documents that were executed under seal. Currently obligation is used in reference to anything that an individual is required to do because of a promise, vow, oath, contract, or law. It refers to a legal or moral duty that an individual can be forced to perform or penalized for neglecting to perform.
An absolute obligation is one for which no legal alternative exists since it is an unconditional duty.
A contractual obligation arises as a result of an enforceable promise, agreement, or contract.
An express obligation is spelled out in direct and actual terms, and an implied obligation is inferred indirectly from the surrounding circumstances or from the actions of the individuals involved.
A joint obligation is one that binds two or more people to fulfill whatever is required, and a several obligation requires each of two or more individuals to fulfill the obligation in its entirety by himself or herself.
A moral obligation is binding upon the conscience and is fair but is not necessarily enforceable in law.
A primary obligation is one that must be performed since it is the main purpose of the contract that contains it, whereas a secondary obligation is only incidental to another principal duty or arises only in the event that the main obligation cannot be fulfilled.
A penal obligation is a penalty, such as the obligation to pay extra money if the terms or conditions of an agreement cannot be satisfied.