Contract Law Cases Involving Minors: What You Need to Know
Contract law cases involving minors, or anyone 21 years of age (in some states, 18 years old) or younger, can be difficult.3 min read
Contract law cases involving minors can be difficult. Minors are often considered anyone 21 years of age or younger, though some states put the age of minors at 18 years old. The terminology of infant and minor can be used to mean the same thing in many states.
Rules to Follow When Creating a Contract With a Minor?
When you enter into a contract with a minor, you are doing so at your own peril. Legal contracts with minors can be easily voided if they see fit, which can leave the contracting party exposed. Many jurisdictions will rule in favor of laws protecting minors from contracted obligations as it is felt that they are not yet competent enough to understand a contract and the obligations they might be agreeing to.
If a minor reaches the legal age of maturity and they are still under a contract when it occurs, then they will have a reasonable time limit during which they can choose to void the contract.
What Does it Mean if a Contract is Voidable?
A contract can be considered voidable when it has the ability to be voided by either of the parties entering into it. Minors entering into a contract before the age of maturity will provide this option for either party. If someone above the age of maturity enters into a contract with a minor, the minor will have the option to void the contract but the adult won't.
There are some contracts that minors will not have the ability to void. These include:
- Bank regulations
- Military contract
The biggest area concerning enforceable contracts with minors deals with contracts of necessaries. If a minor enters into a contract for the following items, the contract cannot be voided due to a minor not having the capacity.
When a contract with a minor is voided, there are certain laws that are required to be followed. If a minor has obtained something from the contract and it is voided, the property will need to be returned. If the property is not returned, the contract cannot be voided.
Exceptions for Creating Contracts With Minors
Considering a contract with a minor can easily be invalidated, it seems that no one would want to enter into a contract with a minor. There are exceptions so that minors can enter into contracts as well as ones to prevent minors from abusing the ability to void the contract.
Some types of contracts that can be an exception to the rules include:
- Entertainment and sports contracts: These cannot be voided at will.
- Necessaries: Goods or services that are necessary for the health and safety of the minor cannot be voided. These contracts can involve goods and services for such things as clothing, food, and shelter. Sometimes vehicles can also be considered necessary.
- Disaffirming the whole contract: If a minor decides to void a contract, they must void the whole contract.
- Ratification: A contract can only be voided when the minor is under the age of maturity. If they do not choose to void it before they reach the age of maturity, they lose the right to void the contract.
- Bank accounts: Courts will often require minors to comply with any banking agreements that they made allowing minors to be subject to fees and penalties that non-minors will be subject to.
- Employment contracts: Since many people under 18 will have some form of employment, the employer will have the right to enforce employment contracts. In the entertainment industry, sometimes courts will have to approve the contract to prevent it being voided later. There is also the possibility for parents to enter into employment contracts binding the minor.
- Other contracts: Certain states will have their own requirements for contracts in regards to minors.
Voiding a Contract
There are two ways in which a contract can be voided. This can include filing a lawsuit that requests the court voids the contracts and the other is through a defense when they are being sued for violation of a contract. A minor must void the whole contract if they choose to void at all; they cannot void specific sections. The minor may also be required to pay some form of restitution for products or services that they have already received.
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