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Should The Age Of Consent Be Higher, Lower Or Remain As It Is

Posted 02-04-2021 at 08:41 PM by jbgusa


I can only opine as to New York law, and any situation depends upon its unique facts. This should be considered only for general guidance.

The answer to your inquiry is not simple. Basically the minor may or may not be able to get out of a contract, but may wind up very sorry he or she asked. Thus, most lawyers will advise the (now adult, then minor) contracting party not to bother. The Court, in Career Placement of White Plains, Inc. v. Vaus, 77 Misc. 2d 788, 354 N.Y.S.2d 764 (Sup. Ct. 1974) stated:
At common law and by statute a minor is a person who has not yet reached twenty-one years of age (Sternlieb v. Normandie Nat. Sec. Corp., 263 N.Y. 245, 188 N.E. 726; Domestic Relations Law s 2). Contracts executed by infants are voidable at their election (Sternlieb v. Normandie Nat. Sec. Corp., Supra; 2 Williston on Contracts s 226 (3rd ed.)). Upon reaching majority the infant ‘must disaffirm within a reasonable time after becoming of age or his silence will be considered a ratification’ (Sternlieb v. Normandie Nat. Sec. Corp., Supra at p. 248, 188 N.E. at p. 727). ************
By various statutes this state has sought to equalize economic relationships between infants and adults in certain business transactions (see e.g. General Obligations Law s 3—101 (eighteen year olds are bound by reasonable and provident business contracts concerning the ‘business in which the infant was engaged’);* Education Law s 281 (sixteen year olds liable on education loans); Insurance Law s 145 (fifteen year olds bound on purchase of life insurance); Insurance **769 Law s 145—a (eighteen year olds bound on purchase of accident and health insurance); former Personnel Property Law s 83 (infant liable for necessaries furnished him) (now Uniform Commercial Code s 1—103)). The purpose of the diverse legislation is to permit infants to conduct certain essential business transactions while assuring those with whom they have such transactions that infancy will not be a defense or ground for repudiation of the contractual obligations. Additionally, it has been held that an infant may appoint an agent (Casey v. Kastel, 237 N.Y. 305, 142 N.E. 671; Mtr. of Goodchild, 160 Misc. 738, 753, 290 N.Y.S. 683, 698) and discharge or hire his own counsel (Mtr. of [IMG]file:///C:\Users\GLUCKS~1\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\ 01\clip_image002.gif[/IMG]Anonymous v. Anonymous, 70 Misc.2d 584, 333 N.Y.S.2d 897; Griston v. Stousland, 186 Misc. 201, 60 N.Y.S.2d 118 (App.Term, 1st Dept.)).

Career Placement of White Plains, Inc. v. Vaus, 77 Misc. 2d 788, 791–92, 354 N.Y.S.2d 764, 768–69 (Sup. Ct. 1974)
In I.C. ex rel. Solovsky v. Delta Galil USA, 135 F. Supp. 3d 196 (S.D.N.Y. 2015) the Court stated:
Notwithstanding the misleading arguments above, defendants correctly note that a minor cannot disaffirm a contract where doing so would put her in a better position than she otherwise would have been absent the contract. It has long been established under New York law that “[t]he privilege of infancy is to be used as a shield, and not as a sword.” Rice v. Butler, 160 N.Y. 578, 55 N.E. 275, 276 (1899). In other words: “After disaffirmance, the infant is not entitled to be put in a position superior to such a one as he would have occupied if he had never entered into his voidable agreement. He is not entitled to retain an advantage from a transaction which he repudiates.” Joseph v. Schatzkin, 259 N.Y. 241, 181 N.E. 464, 465 (1932); see also Francis v. New York & B.E.R. Co., 108 N.Y. 93, 15 N.E. 192, 193 (1888) (“The plaintiff cannot rescind if he retains in himself, or withholds through another, any fruit of the contract.”); Bach v. Long Island Jewish Hosp., 49 Misc.2d 207, 267 N.Y.S.2d 289, 291 (Sup.Ct.1966) ( “Although a minor is permitted to disaffirm contracts under certain conditions, the rule is due not so much to the minor's disability as to a privilege extended for the minor's protection.”) (internal citation omitted).
I.C. ex rel. Solovsky v. Delta Galil USA, 135 F. Supp. 3d 196, 209 (S.D.N.Y. 2015)
The law, basically, gives judges a wide range of discretion. What it amounts to is that a minor can contract for necessities and has an uphill battle getting out of the contract. One of the barriers is that the minor who wants to get out of his/her contract usually is required to return the consideration he/she received, and is financially responsible for wear and tear. In Scott Eden Mgmt. v. Kavovit, 149 Misc. 2d 262, 265, 563 N.Y.S.2d 1001, 1002 (Sup. Ct. 1990) the Court stated:
The restoration of consideration requirement found voice in CPLR 3004 which states that the infant need not tender restoration of benefits received prior to disaffirmance “but the court may make a tender of restoration a condition of its judgment, and may otherwise in its judgment so adjust the equities between the parties that unjust enrichment is avoided.” (See Williston on Contracts, Third Edition Section 238, especially n. 9, as to the apparent historical setting of this provision).
The restoration of consideration principle, as interpreted by the courts, has resulted in the infant being responsible for wear and tear on the goods returned by him (Myers v. Hurley Motor Co., 273 U.S. 18, 47 S.Ct. 277, 71 L.Ed. 515 [automobile]; Rice v. Butler, 160 N.Y. 578, 55 N.E. 275 [bicycle]; Scalone v. Talley Motors, 3 A.D.2d 674, 158 N.Y.S.2d 615 [automobile] ). In the event that the minor cannot return the benefits obtained, he is effectively precluded from disaffirming the contract in order to get back the consideration he has given.

Scott Eden Mgmt. v. Kavovit, 149 Misc. 2d 262, 265, 563 N.Y.S.2d 1001, 1002 (Sup. Ct. 1990)
Thus, for example, when a minor buys a car or bicycle, the item is definitely not the same as it was on the day purchased. That means that the person receives almost no money back. I hope this helps.
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