Can a minor enter into a legal contract? Yes, minors can enter into a legal contract, although the contract will not be enforceable in most cases.

Minors and Legal Capacity

In most states, minors are individuals who are under the age of 18. Minors are not considered to have legal capacity, meaning they do not have the ability to make contracts with other people. If a minor signs a contract, they have the ability to void the deal with certain exceptions. For instance, a minor cannot void a contract for an item that is considered a necessity:

  1. Food
  2. Clothing
  3. Lodging

Minors only have the ability to void a contract due to their lack of capacity while they are under the age of 18. If a contract is not voided before the minor reaches the age of the majority, most states will consider the contract legally valid.

Mental Incapacity

If a person who qualifies as mentally incapable enters a contract, they have the right to void the contract. They can also have a guardian void the agreement. As with minors, mentally incapacitated persons cannot void contracts for necessities. The majority of states use something called the cognitive test to determine if someone is mentally capable. This test helps determine whether the person in question has the ability to understand the words in a contract and their effect.

Other states use the affective test to determine if someone is mentally capable enough to enter into a contract. With this test, a contract is voidable if one party is incapable of acting reasonably and the other party knows of this limitation. Certain jurisdictions use the motivational test to determine legal capacity. This test determines a person's capacity by measuring if they understand whether they should or should not enter into a contract. Unfortunately, these tests are not always effective and can produce differing results when used on a person with a mental impairment such as bipolar disorder.

Intoxication and Contracts

In most cases, intoxication due to drug or alcohol use does not remove a person's legal capacity to enter into a contract. If you have become voluntarily intoxicated and have entered into a contract, most courts will not give you the right to void your contract, believing that you should take responsibility for your actions. The exception to this rule is if your intoxication was so severe that you were unable to understand the implications of entering the contract, and a sober party took advantage of you.

Can Minors Enter into a Contract?

A minor does have the ability to enter into a legal contract. The problem, however, is that the courts will not enforce most contracts involving a minor. Whether a contract with a minor is enforceable or not depends on a variety of factors. Generally, if a minor makes a contract, the minor has the ability to void the contract until they reach the age of majority. Protecting minors from the consequences of entering into an agreement they do not understand is the purpose of this rule.

Because minors do not have legal capacity, courts allow minors to exit a contract whenever they wish. The other party does not have the right to void the contract, only the minor party. While a contract with a minor is valid, the minor can leave the contract at any time. Obviously, it is very easy to abuse this rule, which is why there are certain exceptions to a minor's ability to void contracts.

If you plan to buy something from or sell something to a minor, you should be aware of the risks of entering into a contract with this person. Courts mostly will not uphold a contract between an adult and a minor. If the contract with a minor involves a nonessential item, the contract has no validity. Also, if the minor entered into a contract for a nonessential item without their parent's permission, the parent can have the contract voided. A parent or guardian must consent to a contract with a minor for the contract to be valid. Contracts made with emancipated children are valid because the court granted adult status to the emancipated minor.

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