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I am a 16 year old, who got their first job at 14ish, and ever since have had my own debit card with my own name on it, and all the money I have earned from work, gifts, etc. have been on there. I have direct deposit pay checks, and I save most of it for a car I want in the future. I feel I am reasonable with my money and I understand the importance of saving it. I have had no issues whatsoever with it. My parents decided both to take my debit card away and to transfer all my 5k into their account and not give it back to me. I have fought this, but there isn't much I can do. I am looking into this on the legal side of things, and I'm wondering if this is legal or not in the United States, for a parent to simply take away all the money their child has earned by their own work.

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  • This conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Pat W.
    Oct 5, 2022 at 17:47
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    Does this answer your question? In the USA, do parents have the right to control their children's possessions?
    – Joe
    Oct 5, 2022 at 18:00
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    Did you regularly give any portion of your income to your parents towards the cost of your food and housing? Oct 5, 2022 at 19:18
  • Maybe it is relevant, maybe not: what argument did they give you to support what they did? and under what arguments have you tried to get the money (and the control over it) back?
    – Josh Part
    Oct 5, 2022 at 22:34
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    This sounds like plain old theft. Idk whether the fact that it is a parent stealing from you or that you are a minor is a defense.
    – Neil Meyer
    Oct 6, 2022 at 18:51

1 Answer 1

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You must confirm with your banking institution that the account you have with them is solely in your name. There is a very good chance that it is not, which would mean that the account is joint-owned until you reach 18 years old.

Ownership of an account implies that one can deposit and withdraw money at will, with no need to justify or rationalize the action.

There could be other implications to be had around them just taking the money and not giving it back, but it starts with confirming that the bank account is, as you state, yours and yours alone.

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    -1; this is an answer that might be considered good on Personal Finance & Money, but this is Law. It's neither sourced in law nor accurate. Joint ownership of the bank account does not equate to having ownership of the money in the account from a legal perspective.
    – Joe
    Oct 5, 2022 at 18:03
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    @Joe , in the US, children who have not reached the age of maturity (usually 18) are legally required to have an adult as a co-owner on their account. Unless the OP is legally emancipated, they cannot have a sole account. There is nothing to stop account co-owners - of any age or status - from withdrawing/transferring value from the account whenever they would like. Many adults have experienced similar pain with spouses on their joint accounts. Makoto has the right idea to check with the banking institution.
    – leanne
    Oct 5, 2022 at 19:34
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    'Scuse me: "age of majority", not maturity
    – leanne
    Oct 5, 2022 at 19:58
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    @leanne "in the US, children who have not reached the age of majority (usually 18) are legally required to have an adult as a co-owner on their account": that isn't true in most US states. See csbs.org/statutory-requirements-opening-bank-accounts-minors
    – phoog
    Oct 5, 2022 at 20:00
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    Thanks for the clarification, @phoog, and thanks for the excellent link. It appears that Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Maine are the only States remaining that don't allow minors to, at least in a limited capacity, hold accounts without co-owners.
    – leanne
    Oct 5, 2022 at 20:04

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