If I signed a contract at the age of 17 without a legal guardian present, am I still liable for their terms and conditions?

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If I signed a contract at the age of 17 without a legal guardian present, am I still liable for their terms and conditions?

I signed a contract to a fitness center when I was 17. After research, I found out that the center requires that you must be 18 to sign up but they never asked me for my age. They asked for my I.D which I gave to thembut they never told me I couldn’t sign up. I now owe debt to them and do not know what to do. They sold my debt to an attorney’s office to collect which adds up to be over $1000. I turned 18, months ago and am a full-time student in college. I have no type of income to pay for this. What can I do?

Asked on December 28, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you were less than 18, you could not sign the contract and be bound by it; legally, you were still an "infant."

However, the probelm for you is that the normal remedy when a contract is void, such as due to one party being too young, is rescission: each party gets what it provided back.

However, you cannot return the services you made use of--the time you were a gym member and able to go. Since you can't return the services, you are still liable for the cost of them; and since you are now 18, they can go after you for the debt.

You probably are best off trying to negotiate some settlement of the debt--for example, maybe that you will pay a portion, but not all, of it, over time. You should cite to your inability to pay, as well as the fact that you were a minor when you signed up for the gym, which at least introduces the issue of age.


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