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California Legal Ages Laws

Legally speaking, a child becomes an adult when they reach the age of majority. In most states, the age of majority is 18.

In the eyes of the law, children lack what is referred to as “legal capacity." While the law cannot assign legal responsibility to an individual who lacks the mental capacity or maturity to understand the consequences of their actions, when does someone legally become an adult? Each state has its own laws concerning the age when someone develops the legal capacity of an adult -- or reaches the age of majority. At the age of majority, a person becomes an adult.

Laws Related to Legal Age in California

California's legal ages laws, for instance, establish that an individual reaches the "age of majority" at 18 years old. The laws also state that children must generally be 14 years of age or older to be eligible for emancipation. Through emancipation, a minor may legally remove themselves from their parents' care.

When it comes to having the capacity to undertake certain legal actions, California law allows a minor to sue to enforce their rights. However, a guardian must conduct the actual lawsuit for the minor. In California, except for a few restrictions relating to real and personal property, a minor may also make valid legal contracts. A minor may also consent to medical treatment if they are at least 15 years of age, living apart from their parents, and managing their own personal finances.

The following chart provides a quick summary of California's legal age laws.

Age of Majority

Under §6500, the age of majority is 18.

Eligibility for Emancipation

  • Under Fam. §7120, a minor becomes eligible for emancipation at 14 years of age.
  • Under Fam. §7002, a minor is also eligible for emancipation if they are married or in the military.

Minors' Right to Make Contracts?

  • Under Fam. §6700, a minor may enter into contracts.
  • Under the same statute, minors cannot give a delegation of power, and they cannot make contracts relating to real property or personal property that is not in their immediate possession or control.

Minors' Right to Sue?

Under Fam. §6601, a minor may file a lawsuit, but they must do so with the assistance of a representative.

Minors' Right Consent to Medical Treatment?

  • Under §6922, a minor can consent to medical care under the following circumstances:
  1. If they are older than 15,
  2. If they are living apart from their parents, and
  3. If they are managing their own finances.
  • Under the same statute, if a child consents to their own medical care, the parent or guardian is not liable for the treatment.

Note: State laws are constantly changing. Contact a California family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More Information

For more information on this subject, feel free to check out FindLaw's section on Family Law, as well as the links listed below. You may also find FindLaw's "How Long Do Parents' Legal Obligations to Their Children Continue?" to be helpful depending on your situation. Finally, as mentioned above, you may want to consider hiring a family law attorney to advise you throughout your case.

Research the Law:

Consider reviewing the following resources for more information about laws related to age:

  • At California Law, you'll find links to all the laws in the state, including those related to age.
  • At Official State Codes, you'll find links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Related Resources for Legal Ages Laws:

Consider reviewing the following for more information about legal issues related to age:

Get Professional Legal Help with Your California Legal Ages Concerns

California and all other states set age limits and age-related guidelines for marriage, alcohol consumption, curfew, emancipation, and other matters. If you have additional questions about the law or need legal counsel, you should get in touch with a family law attorney in your area.

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