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Illinois Legal Ages Laws

Parents and their children may never agree on when teenagers are “grown up” enough. While kids feel like they’ve been grownups for years, their parents remain on the “You’re not old enough yet” side. When it comes to the law, however, the line is generally pretty clear in separating minors and adults. Here is a brief summary of legal age laws in Illinois.

Age of Majority in Illinois

Children become adults in the eyes of the law at age 18 in most states, including Illinois. Legal age laws also determine when a child may apply for emancipation from his or her parents; how the law treats contracts involving minors; a minor's ability to sue; and consent to medical treatment.

Illinois Age Statutes

Each state may have different age laws and limits. Learn more about Illinois' legal age laws in the following table.

Age of Majority

18, common law

Eligibility for Emancipation

Minors between 16 and 18 may apply if no parental objection (§§750 ILCS 30/1, et seq.)

Contracts by Minors

Voidable unless for necessities; executing contract binding only if ratified after 18; executed contract binding unless disaffirmed within reasonable time after age 18; common law

Minors' Ability to Sue

Guardian ad litem must be appointed or can sue within 2 years of turning 18 (§735 ILCS 5/13-211)

Minors' Consent to Medical Treatment

Consent by minor if married, parent, or victim of sexual assault (410 ILCS 210/1, et seq.)

Age limits for voting, marrying, consuming alcohol, and other activities can vary from state-to-state and within the same state. For example, while a fourteen-year old may not be allowed to drink until age 21 or vote until age 18, he or she might be old enough to be sued in court for intentionally injuring someone else or damaging property. Generally these differences reflect societal and community values regarding minors’ responsibility and decision-making.

Legal Responsibilities of Minors and Parents

While Illinois sets the default age of majority at 18, there is a legal process by which a minor can become an adult in the eyes of the law. The emancipation of a minor allows him or her to be responsible for his or her own wellbeing and make all of his or her own major decisions regarding healthcare, school, and other matters. Until they turn 18 or are they are emancipated, juveniles will generally be treated as such in criminal cases, including age and status offenses.

Additional Resources for Legal Age Laws

State laws can change frequently. You can visit FindLaw’s family law section to continue your own research. You may contact an experienced family law attorney in Illinois to best understand your rights and responsibilities.

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