Friday, June 28, 2013

More on Parental Consent for Contracts

Dear Rich: In yesterday's blog, you mentioned that a parent's consent should be obtained when contracting with minors. What's the effect of a parent signing the agreement with the statement that you note? Do you think the parent's signature cuts off the minor's right to void the license agreement while still a minor? As a general rule, a minor can void an agreement signed while under the age of consent (18 in most states) prior to reaching the age of consent. If a parent or guardian co-signs an agreement with a minor, the parent is obligated to fulfill the contractual obligation (if possible) or compensate for the damages caused by the termination of the contract. For that reason, assignments by a minor typically include parental consents such as this one for magazine submissions, or this one used for student entries in a contest. We caveat this by saying we have not found any cases where a minor sought to void a copyright assignment or copyright license that was co-signed by a parent or guardian ... so we can't guarantee that a parental consent on a license will be enforced. However, by analogy, patent law does not require consent by a minor's legal representative for oaths or declarations.
Contracts that can't be voided. In some states -- for example, California and New York, certain contracts with minors (and with a parental consent) can be approved by a court thereby making it relatively bullet proof from attack by a minor. And although we didn't get into the details in our previous post, certain contracts -- whether or not a parent co-signs -- cannot be disaffirmed by a minor if they are for payment of taxes, banking agreements, military obligations, or necessities. (Also parental consents releasing a minor from injuries -- for example, a release at a ski resort -- may not always be binding on a minor.)