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Who Is a Minor or Infant?

Traditionally, a minor or an infant is anyone under the age of 21. This has been changed by statutes in almost every state, and a minor is now anyone under the age of 18. The term infant and minor are used interchangeably in most situations.

What Is the Rule When Contracting With an Infant?

Generally seeking, anyone who contracts with an infant or minor is doing so at their own peril. That means that the law gives to infants the ability to void, or exit the contract as they see fit. The most common justification for the rule is to protect minors from assuming obligations which they are not capable of understanding. It is obvious to see that this will lead to harsh results, so some general exceptions have been created. When a minor reaches the age of majority and they are still under contract, they have a limited reasonable amount of time to either accept the contract or void it

What Is a Voidable Contract?

A voidable contract is when a contract is valid, but can be voided by the option of either party. When a minor enters into a contract, they have to have capacity. If an adult enters into a contract with a minor that does not have capacity, the minor has the option to void the contract. However, there are some contracts that even minors cannot void:

  • Taxes
  • Penalties
  • Bank regulations
  • Necessities
  • Military contracts

One of the biggest area of enforceable minor contracts deals with necessaries. When a minor enters into a contract that is for health, comfort, or education, contracts that are providing these items to a minor cannot be voided by a contract because they did not have capacity. When a minor voids a contract, there are certain riles of law that has to done. If the minor still has what he or she has received from the other party, he must return it to the other party upon seeking to avoid the contract. If he does not return the property, he cannot avoid the contract.

What Are The Exceptions to Creating a Binding Contract with a Minor?

If every contract with a minor was invalid, no one in their right mind would ever enter into a contract with a minor. To allow some minors to enter into contracts and/or prevent minors from abusing their position, there are several exceptions including: 

Sports or Entertainment Contracts

Generally speaking, minors who enter into sports or entertainment contracts are held to them, and cannot void them at will.

Necessaries

Contracts for certain goods and services that are necessary to the health and safety of infants cannot be voided. Such goods and services include food, clothing, and lodging or shelter. In some instances, an automobile or motorcycle is also considered a necessary.  

Disaffirm the Whole Contract  

A minor who decides to void a contract because of his age must void the entire contract. The law does not let them to continue to enforce some of the contract while voiding other parts.

Ratification 

A minor can only void a contract while they are still under the age of maturity (again, usually 18), or for a reasonable time after they have reached that age. If a person does nothing to disaffirm the contract after they stop being a minor, the law can find that they will no longer be able to void the contract

Can an Attorney Help Me with Minor Contracts?

If contracting with a minor, the contract may not be legally enforceable. If you are in the process of drafting a contract, or have already done so and the other party is seeking to defend against its enforcement because they are a minor, contacting an experienced business attorney is strongly recommended.

Photo of page author Ki Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 12-28-2016 09:38 PM PST

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