Minors and contracts is a very complicated legal issue. While it can sometimes be possible to enter into a contract with a minor, very strict requirements must be met.

Minors vs. Infants

In the past, minors and infants were anyone younger than 21 years of age. Most states, however, have introduced statutes lowering this age to 18. In the majority of legal situations, the terms minors and infants have the same meaning.

Entering Into a Contract With Infants

If you are seeking to enter into a contract with a minor or infant, you should be aware that you will be doing so at your own risk. Minors and infants usually retain the legal right to void a contract whenever they wish, which means you would have no guarantee that the contract would actually be completed. The reason that minors are allowed to void contracts is so they will be protected from being forced to fulfill contractual obligations they do not have the ability to understand.

Because this can result in very serious consequences to the non-minor party, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if a minor passes the majority age and the contract is still in place, they will retain their ability to void the contract for a limited period of time, after which the contract would be binding.

What Are Voidable Contracts?

A voidable contract is a valid contract that can be voided, or ended, at the discretion of one or both parties. Minors who enter into a contract will be given the right to void the agreement. If an adult and a minor enter into a contract and the minor is found not to have legal capacity, the contract can be voided by the minor.

Certain types of contracts, however, cannot be voided, even if a minor is involved, including:

  • Bank regulations
  • Taxes
  • Contracts with the military
  • Penalties

Contracts that are based on necessities are a very common type of enforceable contract that involves minors. For instance, if a minor enters a contract that is related to their comfort, education, or health, these contracts cannot be voided by the minor because they are for necessities. Certain rules must be followed when a minor plans to void a contract.

For example, if the minor is still in possession of what they were provided by the other party in the contract, they must return whatever they received before the contract can be voided. Failing to give back the property to the other party will prevent the contract from being voided.

In general, minors are considered not to have the legal capacity to enter into the contract, which is why contracts involving minors can be voided. Only the minor, however, has the right to void the contract. The other party does not have this ability. The exceptions to this rule have been put in place so that minors will be deterred from abusing their ability to void contracts.

Exceptions When Contracting With a Minor

Minors cannot unilaterally void several types of contracts. When a minor signs an entertainment or sports contract, for example, they will usually not be able to void the contract, meaning they will be held to the contract's terms. Contracts for services or goods that are necessary to the minor's safety and health also cannot be voided by the minor.

Transportation, such as an automobile, can be a necessity in certain circumstances. Vehicle leases signed by a minor may be upheld if the transportation is deemed necessary. The reason for these exceptions is that most parties would refuse to contract with a minor if all of these contracts could be voided whenever the minor wishes.

Several factors can be used to determine whether a good or service is necessary, including the economic status of the minor and the minor's parents. If the court decides that an item is necessary and that the contract involving the item cannot be voided, they can either enforce the terms the contract has written or rule that the minor has to pay for the services or goods that they have been provided. If a minor decides to void a contract, the entire contract must end. The minor will not be able to pick and choose which parts of the contract to void.

If you need help understanding minors and contracts, you can post your legal needs on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.