Once an individual reaches the age of majority (18 in nearly all states), he or she is considered an adult in the eyes of the law and subject to all of the rights and responsibilities of adulthood. Minors do not have the same rights as adults unless they are emancipated and thus no longer a legal minor. But minors still need access to certain legal processes, access to contraceptives for example, which are governed by state legal age laws. For example, a minor may consent to drug or alcohol treatment without a parent's oversight in most states, since it is a highly personal decision. Access to birth control or abortion, however, varies quite a bit from one state to the next.
A minor may file a petition with the court to become emancipated if he or she is able to show a court that it's in his or her best interests, however not all states provide a clear process for emancipation. In many cases, the decision is entirely up to the family court judge hearing the case.
New Hampshire Legal Age Laws at a Glance
While New Hampshire statute grants automatic emancipation through marriage or military service, the state does not provide a structured process for such a petition. Emancipation occasionally is granted during divorce proceedings if the judge has reason to believe a minor would be better off living apart from both parents, but these instances are very rare in the state.
Minors may sue in New Hampshire through a "next friend" or court-appointed guardian ad litem.
Additional provisions of New Hampshire laws setting legal ages for minors are listed in the following table.
|Age of Majority
|Eligibility for Emancipation
||Not specified (although automatic through marriage or military service). Emancipation may come up during a child custody hearing, however, which would be decided by the judge on a case-by-case basis
|Contracts by Minors
||Can join with spouse in release of homestead interests (§460:4)
|Minors' Ability to Sue
||Next friend; court may appoint guardian ad litem (§498-A:22)
|Minors' Consent to Medical Treatment
||12 or older may consent to drug treatment (§318-B:12-a)
Note: State laws may change with the rulings of higher courts, enactment of newly signed legislation, and other means. You may want to contact a New Hampshire family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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New Hampshire Legal Age Laws: Related Resources