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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we will answer the question, “how old do you need to be to form a contract?” We will explain what happens if minors enter into a contract, situations in which minors are permitted to enter into contracts, and situations in which the legal age to enter a contract is older than the age of the majority.
In almost all cases, an individual must be the age of majority, 18 years old, to form and agree to an enforceable contract. Minors, those under the age of 18, have no capacity to contract. The type of contract can also affect the legal contract age. A prime example of this is car rentals, which typically require a renter to be at least 21 and, in some states, 25 years old.

Under general law, minors cannot sign a legally enforceable contract unless it’s for essential items, including medicine, food, and medical services. Contracts involving minors are only legally binding if the parent or guardian consents to the contract. Therefore, if the parent or guardian did not consent to the contract, they can contact the business or other party and have the contract destroyed.

There is a distinction between a “void” contract and one “voidable.” A contract with a minor is not automatically “void.” Instead, contracts with minors in Illinois are “voidable.” This means that the minor can enforce the benefits they are supposed to receive under the contract. Still, if the other party seeks to enforce the contract, the minor has the option to declare the contract void unless the contract was for necessary items, as discussed above. If the minor chooses to void the contract, they may still have to pay restitution for any benefits that they received under the contract to the detriment of the other party.
An exception to this age limit is the case of emancipation. If a minor is under the legal age of majority, but a court has granted them adult status, that individual may enter contracts as a legal adult.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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