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Alabama’s Legal Age of Majority Is 19: What You Need to Know

Learn from an Alabama family lawyer what the difference is between the rights of an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old in Alabama.

Unlike in many other U.S. states, there is a difference in Alabama between the legal rights you have at 18 and those you have at 19, the latter of which is the age of majority in the state. According to state law (AL Code § 26-1-1 (2023), when you turn 18 in Alabama, you are still considered a minor in certain aspects, whereas when you turn 19, you will generally be treated as an adult under the law. 

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have rights when you turn 18. You do. However, what you can and cannot do at each age varies. Below is an explanation of the legal implications of being 18 versus 19, the legal age of majority, in Alabama.

Vote

Once you turn 18 in Alabama, you have the right to vote in any local, state, or federal election. This milestone marks a significant transition into adulthood, as you can now actively participate in the democratic process. 

Whether you are voting to elect a mayor, a state representative, or the President of the United States, your vote shapes the political landscape and the policies that affect your community and country. It is a significant responsibility.

Voting also allows you to express your opinions on many important issues and influence decisions that have the potential to affect everyday life. By exercising this fundamental right, you join a broader group of U.S. citizens committed to upholding democratic principles and ensuring that their voices are heard.

Enlist and Serve in the Military

As an 18-year-old Alabama resident, you may also enlist and serve in the military. This right marks another monumental step toward adulthood and demonstrating civic responsibility. The opportunity to serve in the military allows young individuals to dedicate themselves to the service of their country, contributing to national security and global peace efforts. 

Enlisting in the military also opens doors to various career paths, technical training, and skill development. It offers instruction in diverse fields, ranging from engineering and technology to healthcare and logistics. Furthermore, military service fosters personal growth, discipline, and leadership qualities while providing benefits such as education financial assistance, healthcare, and housing. 

By choosing this path, you have the chance to put yourself on a journey of personal and professional development. You likewise have the privilege of becoming part of a proud tradition of service and sacrifice, service and sacrifice upon which the U.S. was founded. 

Move Out of Your Parents’ Home

In Alabama, turning 18 offers you the autonomy to make certain significant life choices for yourself. That includes deciding where you live. 

Though your parents may be dead set against your moving out of their house, the day you turn 18 in Alabama, they will have a challenging time persuading a judge to make you move back home. Parents have a say in what you do, but, in reality, forcing you to live at home when you don’t want to isn’t typically an actionable one. Making the decision to move out can be a pivotal moment in your journey toward self-sufficiency and personal development, and the state of Alabama will generally respect that.

This newfound freedom means you can live independently, attend university out of state, or pursue career opportunities without your parents’ consent. While this independence comes with increased responsibility, such as managing finances and finding a place to live, it also paves the way to grow, explore, and establish an identity apart from the way others, including your parents, perceive you. 

Get Married

The same holds true for getting married; at 18, it is your legal right. In the state of Alabama, 18-year-olds can marry without the consent of a parent. This right signifies yet another aspect of legal adulthood and independence. Whether you choose to marry for love, companionship, or other personal reasons, you are recognized by the state as having the maturity and autonomy to make such a significant commitment. 

This legal provision supports the transition to adulthood. Think of it as a vote of confidence by the state of Alabama that you have the wherewithal to take on adult responsibilities and shape your future according to your individual choices and values. 

Coming to the decision to marry reflects your readiness to handle complex life decisions without requiring parental approval. Of course you can still ask your parents to weigh in. The point is that you no longer have to. 

It used to be that 18-year-olds did not have the same legal rights as their 19-year-old and above counterparts in their ability to enter into a legally binding contract. In Alabama, you traditionally had to reach the legal age of majority to do so. This is no longer necessarily the case.

The law changed in 2019 with the addition of a new paragraph to the statute, allowing an unemancipated 18-year-old in Alabama to enter into a legally binding contract. This legislative change expanded the rights of 18-year-olds, enabling them to engage in various contractual agreements such as leasing an apartment, securing a loan, or signing an employment contract. The change in the law is yet another example of the state of Alabama’s recognition that 18-year-olds are capable of making serious commitments while also seeing to it that they uphold the responsibilities associated with the contractual agreements they make.

That said, this newfound contractual freedom comes with a stipulation: as a minor, an 18-year-old “may not rescind, avoid, or repudiate the contract or rescind, avoid, or repudiate any exercise of a right or privilege under the contract.” This means that once you enter into a contract, you will be fully bound by its terms and cannot void the agreement based on your age. 

Be Sued or Sue Someone Else

Related to the above, if you find yourself in a legal entanglement at 18 and are being sued or wish to sue someone else, your parents may need to be involved until you reach Alabama’s legal age of majority at 19. Until that time, you may be unable to sue or be sued in your own name. 

The provision serves as a protective measure so young adults aren’t thrust into a sometimes harsh legal system. An additional year to mature and prepare for the responsibilities that come with legal standing allows young adults to enjoy a gradual transition into full legal adulthood.

Alabama’s state laws can become confusing, which is why discussing your rights under them with an experienced Alabama family law attorney can be beneficial. At Charlotte Christian Law, we support our clients in their decision-making by providing information, explanation, guidance, and resources so they can abide by Alabama state law and feel comfortable. We can do the same for you.

Whether you are moving into adulthood or something else, our team of family law attorneys is here as you and your family members reach the various milestones in your lives. With locations conveniently located in Huntsville and Birmingham to serve you, we invite you to call us at any time or schedule a consultation. Contact us today.   

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