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Let's say Jill wants John to sign a contract. John is a minor, therefore, John will have to get a cosignature from his mom Janet. John has some concerns about the contract, he knows that his mom Janet can negotiate the contract, but can John negotiate his own contract although is a minor?

Thanks, please cite your sources.

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  • I am not sure why sources would be necessary. As long as all signatories to the contract agree on the final terms, does it matter whether John participated in the negotiations?
    – phoog
    Mar 23, 2018 at 20:35
  • @phoog Yeah, I'm not a lawyer and I need to prove that minors are allowed to negotiate. Basically, can a minor counter claim/negotiate themselves without parent involvement. Maybe there are no laws restricting it, if that's true, then maybe provide some sources that discusses who can negotiate and mention that there isn't anything restricting minors.
    – user13525
    Mar 23, 2018 at 20:43
  • I think the problem is that since there is no doubt and never has been that anyone can negotiate, you won't find any authoritative sources that confirm this.
    – user6726
    Mar 23, 2018 at 21:36
  • @user6726 If this is the case, I'm assuming minors can. I'll leave the question open up for a day or two just to make sure that there isn't anything we are missing. Thanks for informing me though.
    – user13525
    Mar 23, 2018 at 21:46

4 Answers 4

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Minors can negotiate and enter contracts. The idea they can’t is a myth - if they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be able to ride the bus or buy an ice cream as these are both contracts.

However, unless the contract is for necessities, the minor can void it at any time while they remain a minor (and for a reasonable time after their majority) so they carry considerable risk for the adult party. Of course, a contract that has been completed can’t be voided.

If a third person (like a guardian) is involved then either they are entering into the contract as well and would be (typically) jointly and severally liable with the minor or they would be standing as guarantor for the minor's performance of the contract and would be liable if the minor didn't perform - which it is will depend on the construction of the contract. However, the minor can still void the contract on their own behalf leaving the co-signer on the hook.

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  • This is only half right, as there is no myth - minors lack the capacity to enter into a contracts. As correctly stated, if the contract is for necessities, it can be enforced, otherwise it is voidable at any time and, thus unenforceable. It basically turns to a matter of semantics if a contract that is not and never was enforceable is actually a contract, namely, but not solely, because the reason it is voidable from the get-go is because the minor is not considered to have been able to assent to the terms.
    – A.fm.
    Mar 25, 2018 at 4:16
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    @A.fm. No. A voidable contract is binding and enforceable unless and until the party with the right to void it does so. If the minor chooses not to void it then it is as valid as any other contract.
    – Dale M
    Mar 25, 2018 at 7:59
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    @A.fm. There are many reasons why that party may not choose to void it.
    – Dale M
    Mar 25, 2018 at 10:48
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    If I (an adult) and a minor sign a contract that the minor will cut my lawn and I will pay them $20 then the contract is voidable by the minor only and enforceable until it is voided. So the minor can force me to pay the $20. It's a valid contract. The minor can void the contract any time, voiding it after cutting my lawn would be obviously stupid. And it would be stupid of me to pay before the lawn is cut, because the minor could take my money and void the contract.
    – gnasher729
    Sep 1, 2019 at 8:08
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    @DaleM: Not true in all jurisdictions. E.g., RCW 26.28.030 includes returning money/property still under the minor's control as a required step in order to void a contract. Of course, this doesn't stop a minor from spending the money and THEN voiding the contract (money being fungible may mean the minor can't get away with this if they still have savings).
    – Brian
    Sep 1, 2023 at 13:54
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John can surely negotiate the contract, and submit it to his parent, Janet. If Janet ratifies it, it will be binding on all parties.

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Yes. BUT: here's the catch. under most jurisdictions, contracts are unenforceable agenst minors. So, suppose person A, a minor, signs a contract with person b, a adult, and person A is going to cut the grass for person B, and person b is going to pay person a 10 dollars. but, it turns out that person A already have vacation planned, person b CANNOT sue person a. and if person A cuts the grass and person b refuses to pay, person B CAN sue person a.

EDIT: there is the case of emancipation, then the the contract will be enforceable agent the minor.

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Anyone and anything can “negotiate”, if one party wants to submit the terms to a magic 8-ball for approval, that’s their right, a minor, even a newborn, would be no different.

But there’s nothing forcing the other party to participate other than their own desires, if they view the other party submitting the terms to a magic 8-ball or to the cry of a newborn as unreasonable, they can walk away.

In this case it seems like the contract is actually about and for the minor, so the other side is unlikely to consider it unreasonable to negotiate with the minor.

Still, as with having a lawyer or some other more traditional representative doing the negotiations, it’s not binding until the parties actually agree to the terms.

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