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Virginia Legal Ages Laws

Parents: “Gosh, they grow up so fast, don’t they?” Kids: “Not fast enough.” Of all the things parents and their children disagree on, probably the most contentious is how old is “old enough.” Old Dominion’s legal system, on the other hand, is pretty definitive when separating minors and adults. This is a brief summary of legal age laws in Virginia.

Legal Age Laws

Individuals are considered adults in the eyes of the law once they reach the age of majority, which is 18 in Virginia. But state laws also provide legal age limits below the age of majority for other legal processes, such as consenting to medical treatment. In Virginia, a minor may apply for emancipation at age 16, on the condition of a judge's approval, while most contracts by minors are voidable.

Virginia Age Statutes

Virginia's legal ages laws are summarized in the following chart.

Age of Majority

18 (§1-13.42)

Eligibility for Emancipation

By judicial petition at age 16 (§16.1-331 et seq.)

Contracts by Minors

Voidable subject to making restitution when possible with various exceptions for necessities (common law)

Minors' Ability to Sue

Next friend; defendant infant represented by guardian ad litem (§8.01-8)

Minors' Consent to Medical Treatment

Minors may consent to treatment for venereal disease, pregnancy, substance abuse, or mental illness. Married minors may consent to any treatment (§54.1-2969 (E)).

Though most states have similar age limits for voting, marrying, consuming alcohol, some can vary. These variations often reflect differences in community and societal values regarding minors’ ability to make responsible decisions. For example, while civil liabilities for injury or damages may extend to individuals as young as fourteen, voting and drinking privileges are generally withheld until age 18 or 21, respectively.

Legal Responsibilities of Minors and Parents

Virginia has a legal process, known as emancipation of a minor, by which a minor can become an adult in the eyes of the law. Although Virginia’s default age of majority is 18, emancipation allows a minor to be responsible for his or her own wellbeing and make all of his or her own major life decisions, including school, healthcare, and other matters. Until they are emancipated or turn 18, juveniles will generally be treated as such in criminal cases, including age and status offenses.

Virginia Legal Ages Laws: Related Resources

State age laws can change over time. You can continue your own research on this topic by visiting FindLaw’s family law section. If you would like legal assistance, you can contact a Virginia family law attorney in your area to schedule a consultation.

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