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Pennsylvania Legal Ages Laws

Most states have different age limits for different types of legal transactions, such as the ability to enter into a contract or file a lawsuit. All states restrict alcoholic beverages to those 21 and older, but other adult rights and responsibilities are tied to the age of majority. The federal government also has age limits, such as those related to labor regulations. For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits children under 14 from being employed.

Continue reading for a breakdown of laws related to age in Pennsylvania.

What is the Age of Majority?

The age of majority -- the age at which individuals are considered adults under the law -- is 18 in most states. Anyone who has reached the age of majority is liable for most of their actions. However, a "minor" is held to a lower standard of expectations concerning such liability. Laws concerning age reflect these different standards in expectations concerning liability.

The age of majority in Pennsylvania is 18. After a person has reached or surpassed the age of majority, they can enter in binding and legally enforceable contracts and may sue and be sued in civil court.

Pennsylvania's legal age laws specify that minors may be represented by a guardian, guardian ad litem, or next friend. A "next friend" is someone acting on behalf of the minor in a court setting or legal proceeding without formal appointment.

Pennsylvania Age Limit Laws

Pennsylvania law provides some guidance related to a minor's ability to consent for medical treatment. For example, under state law, a minor may consent to medical treatment related to drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted diseases.

Also, Pennsylvania children who are 14 and older may provide consent for any mental health treatment, including prescription drugs.

While Pennsylvania law doesn't specifically address emancipation, state agencies have the authority to determine whether a minor should be emancipated. However, marriage, military service, and certain other actions automatically result in emancipation.

The following table lists the various provisions of Pennsylvania's legal age laws. See FindLaw's "Emancipation of Minors Basics" and "Parental Liability Basics" for related information.

Age of Majority

Under 23§5101, the age of majority is 18.

Eligibility for Emancipation

No statute explicitly addresses emancipation.

Contracts by Minors

  • Under Section 7310, a minor that is 17 years of age or older may take out loans guaranteed by the United States government.
  • Under Section 5105, minors may take out loans for education purposes.

Minors' Ability to Sue

  • Under Rule 802 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, a minor does not need to be represented by a guardian in court settings or legal proceedings before a district judge.

Minors' Consent to Medical Treatment

  • Under § 10101, a minor who is 18 years of age or older may consent to medical, dental, and health services on their own behalf.
  • Under the same statute, a minor that has graduated from high school, or is married, or has been or is pregnant may consent to such medical, dental, and health services on their own behalf, as well.
  • Under § 10104, a minor of any age may consent to medical care without involving a guardian or a parent when delaying care would cause irreparable injury.
  • Under § 1690.112, a minor can consent to medical treatments related to substance abuse.
  • Under § 10101.1, a parent or guardian may consent to in-patient psychiatric care for minors that are under the age of 18.
  • Under the same statute, a minor that is 14 years of age or older may consent to in-patient voluntary psychiatric care without involving a parent or guardian.

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

Pennsylvania Family Laws: Related Resources

Consider reviewing the following information to learn more about laws and legal issues related to age:

Pennsylvania Laws Related to Age: More Resources

Considering reviewing the following, as well, for more information about laws and legal issues related to age:

Find a Local Attorney for Your Family Law Needs

A lot of state laws and legal processes have age-related restrictions, such as the legal distinction of "minors." If you are considering becoming emancipated from your parents or have other age-related legal questions, it's in your best interests to contact a Pennsylvania family law attorney.

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