According to legislators for the Commonwealth, in order to be considered an adult in our state, an individual must be 18. Therefore, under this statutory provision, people 18 or older are competent to enter into binding contracts. But what ability does a person under the age of 18 have to enter into a binding contract? The business law professionals at Skeeter, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey explain. 

Entering Into a Binding Contract With a Minor

Ordinarily, a contract executed by a minor is enforceable by them but may also be voided or set aside if they so choose. If the minor elects to affirm the contract upon obtaining the age of 18, then the contract is enforceable. So in other words, the minor holds all the cards. Additionally, in some instances, a parent or guardian may void a contract on the minor’s behalf. 

The privilege bestowed onto a minor to set aside a contract made before they were an adult is given for policy reasons. People under 18 are essentially deemed to be “disabled” and are presumed to be “insufficiently mature or experienced to effectively bargain with those who have obtained legal age.” Any transaction that might result in a minor sustaining a financial loss is scrutinized with care.

One exception to the general rule is that a person under 18 has the capacity to contract for necessities. These are defined as, but not limited to:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Medical attention
  • Educational needs

In some instances, farm equipment, especially as it pertains to livelihood, may be included. A contract for necessities can’t be voided.

Ultimately, individuals wishing to enter into a binding and enforceable contract with a person under 18 should be very cautious. There exists a distinct possibility that the contract is unenforceable, and the courts generally won’t uphold it. If a minor breaks a contract, the other party will be unable to recover damages. 

For more information on reviewing contract points, consult a business law attorney.