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West Virginia Legal Ages Laws

In most states, the age of majority is 18. In West Virginia, the age of majority is also 18. At the age of majority, a person takes on the rights and responsibilities of adulthood. Prior to that age, people are legally recognized as minors. As minors, people face many restrictions related to age concerning what they can and can't do by law.

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

Age of Majority in West Virginia

Each state sets ages for what people can and can't do by law. Although these laws can vary, West Virginia is like most states and has an age of majority of 18 years old. If a person is married in West Virginia, however, the age of majority is 16.

When a person is younger than the age of majority, they are known as "minors." As "minors," people still have certain legal rights and responsibilities that are typically associated with adulthood. Examples of these include the ability to enter into some contracts and make certain medical care decisions.

West Virginia Age Laws

The details of West Virginia's legal age laws are listed below.

Age of Majority

Eligibility for Emancipation

Under West Virginia Code, § 49-4-115, a minor is eligible for emancipation under the following circumstances:

  • If the minor is under the age of 16, the minor must also be married.
  • If the minor is unmarried, the minor must be over the age of 16.
  • Regardless of whether the minor is married or not, the minor must be able to demonstrate that they can support themselves financially.
  • They must be able to demonstrate that the emancipation is in their best interest, which will be up to the court to decide.

Contracts by Minors

Minors' Ability to Sue

Minors' Consent to Medical Treatment

  • Under § 16-4C-17, medical care providers are relieved of liability for failure to obtain consent from minors requiring medical care in cases of emergency.
  • Under § 60A-5-504(4)(e), a minor may consent to medical care related to substance abuse without a parent's or guardian's consent.
  • Under § 16-4-10, a minor may consent to medical care related to a sexually transmitted disease without the consent of a parent of guardian.

Emancipation and the Legal Responsibilities of Minors

There is a legal process by which a person under the age of 18 in West Virginia can apply to become an adult in the eyes of the law. This process is known as the “emancipation of a minor" and can allow a minor to become responsible for their own welfare and make decisions regarding education, health care, and residence. A child must be 16 or married to apply for emancipation, and courts generally decide emancipation cases with the minor's best interests in mind. In criminal cases, minors will normally be treated as such until they are emancipated or they turn 18, especially for age and status offenses.

More Resources for West Virginia Legal Ages Laws

As you can see in the chart above, state legal age laws can cover a variety of scenarios. FindLaw's section on Family Law can provide you with additional articles and resources on this topic. You can also consult with a West Virginia family law attorney in your area if you would like legal help regarding a juvenile case or a family law matter.

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