Age of majority


Age of majority

The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized (and recognized or declared) in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over and for them. The vast majority of countries set majority at 18, but ages as low as 16 and as high as 21 also exist. The word majority here refers to having greater years and being of full age; it is opposed to minority, the state of being a minor. The law in a given jurisdiction may never actually use the term "age of majority" and the term thereby refers to a collection of laws bestowing the status of adulthood. The age of majority is a legally fixed age, concept, or statutory principle, which may differ depending on the jurisdiction, and may not necessarily correspond to actual mental or physical maturity of an individual.

In practical terms, there are certain specific actions which a person who attains the age of majority is permitted to take, which they could not do before. These may include entering into a binding contract, buying stocks, voting, buying and/or consuming alcoholic beverages, driving motor vehicles on public roads, and marrying without obtaining consent of others. The ages at which these various rights or powers may be exercised vary as between the various rights and as between different jurisdictions. For example, the ages at which a person may obtain a license to drive a car or consume alcoholic beverages vary considerably between and also within jurisdictions. Age of majority should not be confused with the age of sexual consent, the driving age, the voting age, etc., which all may sometimes be higher or lower than majority. Although a person may attain the age of majority in a particular jurisdiction, he or she may still be subject to age-based restrictions regarding matters such as the right to vote or stand for elective office, act as a judge, and many others.

Contents

Explanation

Age of majority can be confused with a similar concept, the age of license,[citation needed] which also pertains to the threshold of adulthood but in a much broader and more abstract way. As a legal term of art, "license" means "permission", and it can implicate a legally enforceable right or privilege. Thus, an age of license is an age at which one has legal permission from government to do something. The age of maturity, on the other hand, is legal recognition that one has grown into an adult.

For example, in any jurisdiction, the age at which an individual is allowed to exercise the franchise (vote), leave school without taking a diploma, enter into legally binding contracts (other than for necessaries, to which no age of license applies), operate a motor vehicle, purchase and consume alcoholic beverages, and so on – these are all ages of license, at which the law permits an individual to perform certain acts and exercise certain rights, with or without any restrictions.

Age of majority pertains solely to the acquisition of control over one's person, decisions and actions, and the correlative termination of the legal authority and responsibility of the parents (or guardian(s), in lieu of parents) over the child’s persons and affairs generally.

Many ages of license are correlated to the age of majority, but they are nonetheless legally distinct concepts. One need not have attained the age of majority to have permission to exercise certain rights and responsibilities. Some ages of license are actually higher than the age of majority. For example, the age of license to purchase alcoholic beverages is 21 in all U.S. states. Another example is the voting age which prior to the 1970s was 21 while the age of majority was 18 in most states. In the Republic of Ireland the age of majority is 18, but one must be over 21 years of age to stand for election to the Houses of the Oireachtas.[1] Also, in Portugal the age of majority is 18, but one must be at least 25 years of age to run for public office.[2] A child who is legally emancipated by a court of competent jurisdiction automatically attains to his or her maturity upon the signing of the court order. This is distinct from the legal process by which a child might be taken into foster care and/or made a ward of the court. Foster care and court wardship do not confer maturity upon the child so separated from his or her parents (or guardians). Only emancipation confers the status of maturity before a person has actually reached the age of majority.

Almost all jurisdictions automatically confer emancipation (and with it, the status of majority) upon otherwise minor individuals who are married. Some do likewise for minors who are on active duty in the armed forces.[3]

Countries and subdivisions

The following list the age of majority in countries (or administrative divisions) as appropriate:

Age 15

Age 16

Age 17

Age 18

Age 19

Age 20

Age 21

See also

References

  1. ^ "At what age can I?". Dublin: Citizens Information Board (Bord um Fhaisnéis do Shaoránaigh / BFS). http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/reference/checklists/checklist_at_what_age_can_i.html. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "CONSTITUTION OF THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC". http://app.parlamento.pt/site_antigo/ingles/cons_leg/Constitution_VII_revisao_definitive.pdf. 
  3. ^ Statutory and Judicial Emancipation of Minors in the United States, 2001-2002 analysis by law students of Northeastern University
  4. ^ Blackburn, Victoria. "What Is the Age of Majority?". Wisegeek.com. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-age-of-majority.htm. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991". Legislation.gov.uk. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1991/50/section/1. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  6. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Cuba 1992". Cubanet.org. 1959-01-01. http://www.cubanet.org/ref/dis/const_92_e.htm. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  7. ^ "Culture of Cuba - traditional, history, people, clothing, women, beliefs, food, customs, family, social, marriage, men, life, population, religion, rituals, Cultural name". Everyculture.com. http://www.everyculture.com/Cr-Ga/Cuba.html. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  8. ^ Interpol report on Kyrgyzstan
  9. ^ Interpol report on Uzbekistan law
  10. ^ http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaGibraltar.pdf
  11. ^ Amnesty International Memorandum to United Nations Human rights Committee on Orphans and other children denied parental care (Note that an Interpol document states that the age of majority is 14, but this is contradicted within the document by the statement that minimum age for marriage is 18: Interpol report on Albanian law
  12. ^ "American Samoa Code Annotated § 40.0401". Asbar.org. http://www.asbar.org/Newcode/Title%2040.htm#a401. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  13. ^ Interpol report on Andorra law
  14. ^ "Política - El Senado aprobó la ley de la mayoría de edad a los 18 años". Telam. 1980-01-01. http://www.telam.com.ar/vernota.php?tipo=N&dis=1&sec=1&idPub=169701&id=328561&idnota=328561. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  15. ^ Interpol report on Armenia
  16. ^ "The Age of Majority". Website of the Tangled Moon Coven. http://www.tangledmoon.org/majorityage.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  17. ^ Interpol report on Azerbaijan
  18. ^ Interpol report on Bahamas
  19. ^ Interpol report on Barbados
  20. ^ Interpol report on Belarus
  21. ^ Interpol report on Bosnia and Herzegovina
  22. ^ "clan:158" (PDF). http://www.otac.ba/usr/101/files/FBiH_porodicni_zakon.pdf. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  23. ^ a b Susan Munroe. "Age of majority". About.com. http://canadaonline.about.com/od/canadianlaw/g/ageofmajority.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-23. "The age of majority in Canada is determined by each province and territory in Canada." 
  24. ^ Interpol report on Denmark
  25. ^ Interpol report on Djibouti (in French)
  26. ^ "World Law Direct, Age of Majority list". Worldlawdirect.com. http://www.worldlawdirect.com/forum/law-wiki/27181-age-majority.html. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  27. ^ Indian Majority Act
  28. ^ "Age of Majority Act, 1985". Irish Statute Book. Oireachtas. http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1985/en/act/pub/0002/print.html. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  29. ^ http://www.tynwald.org.im/papers/hansards/2005-2006/kh07032006.pdf / Hansard, House of Keys, March 7, 2006, 699 K123
  30. ^ Age of Majority (Jersey) Law 1999
  31. ^ Republic Act No. 6809, December 13, 1989, Chan Robles Law library
  32. ^ "The Citizens (Natural Persons)". Russian-civil-code.com. http://www.russian-civil-code.com/PartI/SectionI/Subsection2/Chapter3.html. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  33. ^ "Age of Majority in Sri Lanka". Lawnet.lk. http://www.lawnet.lk/process.php?st=2001Y3V66C&hword=%27%27&path=5. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  34. ^ "Human Rights Wtach, ''Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan: End Juvenile Death Penalty''". Hrw.org. 2010-10-08. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/10/09/iran-saudi-arabia-sudan-end-juvenile-death-penalty. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  35. ^ "Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation". Admin.ch. http://www.admin.ch/ch/e/rs/101/a136.html. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  36. ^ "Age of majority". Hmrc.gov.uk. 2011-06-28. http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/dmgmanual/html/DMG46001/10_0092_DMG47063.htm. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  37. ^ "Age of Majority Act (Northern Ireland) 1969". Legislation.gov.uk. 2011-05-26. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/apni/1969/28/contents. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  38. ^ a b "Mississippi Age of Majority Law - Age of Majority - Minors". Minors.uslegal.com. 1976-07-01. http://minors.uslegal.com/age-of-majority/mississippi-age-of-majority-law/. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  39. ^ "Section 26-1-1 — :: Chapter 1 — GENERAL PROVISIONS. :: Title 26 — INFANTS AND INCOMPETENTS. :: 2006 Alabama Code :: Alabama Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia". Law.justia.com. 1975-07-22. http://law.justia.com/codes/alabama/2006/19865/26-1-1.html. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  40. ^ http://likms.assembly.go.kr/law/jsp/law/Law.jsp?WORK_TYPE=LAW_BON&LAW_ID=A1474&PROM_NO=10645&PROM_DT=20110519&HanChk=Y
  41. ^ http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaJapan.asp
  42. ^ Interpol report on Bahrain
  43. ^ Ordonnance 62-041 du 19 septembre 1962 relative aux dispositions générales de droit interne et de droit international privé

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • age of majority — age of majority: the age at which a person is granted by law the rights (as ability to sue) and responsibilities (as liability under contract) of an adult compare emancipate ◇ At common law, the age of majority was 21. Age of majority is now set… …   Law dictionary

  • age of majority — Lawful Law ful, a. 1. Conformable to law; allowed by law; legitimate; competent. [1913 Webster] 2. Constituted or authorized by law; rightful; as, the lawful owner of lands. [1913 Webster] {Lawful age}, the age when the law recognizes one s right …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • age of majority — the age when you can vote, come of age    Dad said that when I reach the age of majority I can buy my own car! …   English idioms

  • age of majority — Age at which a person may contract sui juris; now 18 in most jurisdictions. Sometimes referred to as full age; legal age; majority; adulthood. Age at which one may execute a valid will or vote; age at which payments for support by parents may… …   Black's law dictionary

  • age of majority — Age at which a person may contract sui juris; now 18 in most jurisdictions. Sometimes referred to as full age; legal age; majority; adulthood. Age at which one may execute a valid will or vote; age at which payments for support by parents may… …   Black's law dictionary

  • age of majority — noun The age at which the rights and privileges of an adult are legally granted. Syn: legal age …   Wiktionary

  • age of majority — The age, usually twenty one, at which the disability of infancy terminates. 27 Am J1st Inf § 5 …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • the age of majority — the age when you can vote, between 16 and 21 years, come of age    Dad said that when I reach the age of majority I can buy my own car! …   English idioms

  • individual under the age of majority — index minor Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • person under the age of majority — index infant Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary


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