Can I be held liable for paying a school if I was under 18 at the time I went?

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Can I be held liable for paying a school if I was under 18 at the time I went?

I went to a month of college when I was 17 and don’t recall having my parents sign any papers allowing it. Can I be held liable to pay the debt?

Asked on June 9, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New Jersey

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Most non-necessities can be disaffirmed by a minor and therefore a minor has absolutely no requirement to pay it off, unlike like necessities or necessary medical care.  In this situation, you voluntarily signed up for college and if the college didn't take care to obtain parental co-signatures or a loan from you, I am unsure if it is legally enforceable. If this has shown up on your credit report, you may wish to file a dispute with each credit report it appears on and go from there.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This is what the issue will boil down to: whether or not you can be held legally liable for a debt incurred as a minor based upon the laws of the state of New Jersey.  Generally speaking, many obligations created by minors are considered void, as minors are not legally capable of entering binding contracts. However, many states provide exceptions to this rule for debts incurred for necessities, such as non-elective medical treatment. Some states require that the provider attempt to collect from the minor’s parents prior to turning to the minor for payment, as parents are generally liable for any necessary medical treatment provided to their minor children. However, if your parents are unable to pay, the creditor may have a legal claim against you personally. Here, though, your parents did not contract for you.  You did it yourself.  And although many states allow a contract enter in to by a minor to be voidable, you can not assume that here and just let the matter go.  I would consult with an attorney in your area and see about settling the debt.   Good luck. 


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