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What is Minors Law?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Minors law is the area of the law which pertains to minors, people who are deemed under the age of majority. Before people are recognized as adults under the law, they lack many rights and responsibilities. Minors law defines minors, outlines the rights and responsibilities they do have, and establishes a framework for dealing with minors in a legal and judicial context. Many nations have laws pertaining to minors on their books.

In the eyes of the law, people who are below the age of adulthood are treated as though they lack capacity. This means that minors cannot make legal decisions for themselves. This includes entering into contracts, making autonomous decisions about medical care, entering into marriages, and engaging in a variety of other activities, such as making wills, opening bank accounts, and so forth. Minors law may allow a minor to do certain things, like taking out a student loan with a cosigner, in the understanding that minors may need to engage in certain activities for personal or social reasons.

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In addition to lacking the legal rights of adults, minors also do not have the same legal responsibilities. Their lack of legal capacity means that they cannot be held responsible for crimes in the same way as adults, under the terms of minors law. In some regions, juveniles who commit crimes of any nature are tried and incarcerated separately. In others, minors who are in their early teens may be tried as adults if it can be demonstrated that, although they were minors, they clearly understood the potential repercussions of their actions and should bear more legal responsibility.

Minors lack the legal capacity for consent, although in some nations the age of consent is below that of majority, which means that minors can potentially marry or have sexual intercourse before they are considered legal adults. Minors law also states that minors cannot be held liable for certain activities, although they can still receive citations and punishments for violation of the law, as when a teenage driver speeds and is subsequently ticketed.

There may be situations in which someone who is below the age of majority needs more autonomy, as for example when a minor is going to school in a different city or is making arrangements for self-care because his or her parents lack capacity. In these situations, the minor may apply for emancipation. Emancipated minors are treated as adults in the eyes of the law, with all of the rights and responsibilities thereof, and their parents are no longer required to provide care or assistance for them.

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