- In respect of a parent's liability: –such things as are necessary to supply the personal needs of the infant, suitable shelter, food, clothing, medical attention, and whatever else is essential to the health and comfort of the child, including education. 39 Am J1st P & C § 37. Within the rule that an infant may bind himself for necessaries:–those things which are reasonably necessary for the proper and suitable maintenance of the infant in view of his social position and situation in life, the customs of the social circle in which he moves, and the fortune possessed by him and by his parents, including, of course, such things as are obviously for the maintenance of existence. 27 Am J1st Inf § 17. Within the meaning of the liability of an insane person:–articles proper for the normal maintenance of the incompetent, the determination depending not merely on the nature of the articles but also upon their propriety and suitability for the incompetent, according to the circumstances and his condition of life. Belluci v Foss, 244 Mass 401, 138 NE 551. Within the meaning of a husband's duty to provide for his wife:–at common law, necessary food, drink, clothing, washing, medicine, instruction, and a suitable place of residence; with more liberality evidenced by more modern cases, looking to the means, ability, social position and circumstances of both husband and wife for the determination to be made in the particular case. 26 Am J1st H & W § 375. Repairs and supplies furnished a vessel, towage, use of dry dock or marine railway, for which the person furnishing is entitled to a maritime lien. 46 USC § 971. A necessary article is one which the party actually needs. It is not enough to show that the article is per se classed as necessary, such as food and clothing. It must also be actually needed at the time. State v Thornton, 232 Mo 298, 134 SW 519. Under the maritime law permitting the master of a ship to pledge the owner's credit for necessaries, the word does not import absolute necessity, but the circumstances must be such that a reasonably prudent owner, present, would have authorized the expenditures, and it is usually sufficient if they are reasonably fit and proper, having regard to the exigencies and requirements of the ship, for the port where she is lying and the voyage on which she is bound. 48 Am J1st Ship § 133. Within the meaning of exemption statutes, what are necessaries must be largely a question of fact to be determined under the varying circumstances of each case. Goods furnished cannot be regarded as necessaries for the family of the debtor where he is unmarried, nor where they are merely the means by which payment is made for what is necessary, as where they are furnished him on credit and used by him to pay his board precisely as if he were paying it in money. The decisions do not confine the term to articles of commerce, but extend it to include, as well, services rendered even of a professional character, such as medical services or legal services. 22 Am J1st Exemp § 106.
Ballentine's law dictionary. Anderson, W.S.. 1998.