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.)


Gordon Firemark said...

Actually, a parent's mere consent wouldn't bind the parent to perform the contract. That would take a Guarantee, wouldn't it?

Also, in a personal services contract, such as an actor deal, the parent couldn't actually perform anyway, so even a guarantee is ineffective.

The Dear Rich Staff said...

Yes, we don't see how a parent's co-signing of a personal services contract could guarantee performance; we imagine that's why ratification by the court is available in some states.

Unknown said...

Rich, you're dead wrong regarding parental guarentees

The Dear Rich Staff said...

thanks for your comments ... please enlighten us