A FEW THOUGHTS ON DISABILITIES OF MINORITY

February 27, 2013 § 4 Comments

In a case before me recently, one of the lawyers filed a motion to set aside an agreed judgment executed by a nineteen-year-old woman by which she had agreed that the father of her child could have custody. The lawyer argued that she was incompetent by virtue of her age to execute and be bound by such a judgment. The motion got me thinking that maybe a few thoughts about disabilities of minority would be in order.

  • MCA 93-19-13 provides that all persons 18 years of age or older “shall have the capacity to enter into binding contractual relationships affecting personal property,” unless otherwise disqualified or prohibited by law. It goes on to allow persons 18 or older to sue or be sued in their own right over such contracts.
  • “We therefore hold section 93-19-13, (Supp. 1980) effectively removes the disability of minority of all persons 18 years or older for the purpose of entering into contracts affecting personal property including the right to settle a claim for personal injuries, to execute a contract settling the claim, and to accept money in settlement of the claim.” Garrett v. Gay, 394 So.2d 321, 322-23 (Miss. 1981). 
  • Garrett also stated that an 18-or-older minor has the right to deal with his or her own choses in action, which “is the right of bringing an action, or a right to recover debt or money, or a right of proceeding in a court of law to procure the payment of a sum of money, or a right to recover a personal chattel or a sum of money by action, or, as it is defined by statute, a right to recover money or personal property by a judicial proceeding.” 
  • The statute pertains to personal property rights only, and does not extend to real estate. MCA 93-19-1 provides for removal of disabilities of minority to authorize the minor “to sell and convey, to mortgage, to lease, and to make deeds of trust and contracts, including promissory notes,” with respect to his or her interest as effectively as if he or she were 21 years or older.
  • MCA 93-19-13 provides that a married  minor (Note: MCA 1-3-27 defines “minor” as a person under the age of 21) is under no disability with respect to bringing or defending a divorce or separate maintenance action, child support and custody and any other marital issues between the parties. The statute specifies “married” minors, and would not appear to embrace unmarried minors.
  • MCA 93-5-9 essentially mirrors 93-19-13.
  • Minors may not vote. Article 12, Section 241, Mississippi Constitution, except as provided in the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Minors may not waive process. Rule 4(e), MRCP.
  • Minors may not select their own domicile, but must have that of the parents. Boyle vs. Griffin, 84 Miss.41, 36 So. 141, 142 (Miss. 1904); In re Guardianship of Watson, 317 So.2d 30, 32 (Miss. 1975); Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians vs. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 40; 109 S.Ct. 1597, 1603 (1989).
  •  Minors may not enter into binding contracts regarding personal property or sue or be sued in their own right in regard to contracts into which they have entered. Section 93-19-13, MCA.
  • Minors may not have an interest in an estate without having a guardian appointed for them. Section 93-13-13, MCA.
  • Minors may not be bound by contracts for the sale of land, and may void them at their option. Edmunds vs. Mister, 58 Miss. 765 (1881).
  • Minors may not choose the parent with whom they shall live in a divorce or modification; although they may state a preference, their choice is not binding on the Chancellor. Section 93-11-65, MCA; Westbrook vs Oglesbee, 606 So.2d 1142, 1146 (Miss. 1992); Bell vs. Bell, 572 So.2d 841, 846 (Miss. 1990).
  • Minors may not after emancipation be bound by or enforce contracts entered into during minority except by following certain statutory procedures. Section 15-3-11, MCA.
  • Minors may not legally consent to have sexual intercourse. Section 97-3-65(b).
  • Minors may not legally consent to be fondled. Section 97-5-23(1).
  • Minors are protected by an extended statute of limitations. Section 15-1-59, MCA.

There may be more, and I have not gone back and checked all of the authority above. Before using any of this, be sure to verify the citations and what they say.

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