In a teenager’s eyes, turning 18-years-old is the ultimate dream, but for parents, it can be their worst nightmare. From letting go of the reigns to accepting their child is growing up, the transition into adulthood is never an easy one. But, from a legal perspective, turning 18 is more than a right of passage or a reason to throw a giant party. In most states, the age of 18 is when a person is officially and legally viewed as an adult, which includes the ability to enjoy certain rights along with the requirement to fulfill certain duties. Here’s an overview of the privileges of turning 18:
1. You are legally responsible for your actions.
A minor (juvenile or child) is under the protection of parents for the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter. Also, the parents are the legal and financial guardians of the juvenile. If a minor shoplifts or breaks a window with a baseball, the parents are held legally responsible. The minor cannot be held to any contract.
2. You can move out of your parents’ home.
Each state is different when it comes to a concept like being able to move out. But in the United States, the age of 18 is when you legally become an adult. Before that age, you are a minor under the guardianship of your parents.
3. You gain more driving privileges.
Under the age of 18, states can dramatically restrict your driving privileges by prohibiting any passengers or driving at certain times of the day.
4. Your juvenile record is sealed.
When you turn 18, you now have a “fresh start” as an adult, so past transgressions won’t legally come back to haunt you.
5. You can enter into a contract.
You can enter into contracts because they are now legally binding. This opens up a wide range of new activities you can engage in. Whether you know it or not, a child is not responsible for gambling losses. This is a form of a contract. Juveniles cannot qualify for legally binding contracts.
6. You can get married.
Unless you are in a state that allows marriage before 18 years old or with a parent’s permission, you could not get hitched until you became a legal adult. In order to be legally married, you must be an adult who can have the authority to say “I do.” You can’t do that until you are 18 years old.
7. You can consent to physical relationships.
At 18-years-old, you can now have “consensual sex” with a partner. The legal age of consent varies state by state, with some areas being as young as 16 years old.
8. You must sign tax forms for employment.
When you apply for a job, you must sign a tax form and contract. This is not legally binding until you are an adult. Thus, after 18, you can hold a job, get an apartment, buy stocks and purchase real estate.
9. You can join the military.
The government wants you to register for the Selective Service (military draft) when you turn 18. You are now legally required to serve your country. You can vote and because jury duty is based on your voting records, you also must serve in a jury of your peers.
10. You can go to jail.
No more “juvy,” as the kids call it. If you commit a crime or misdemeanor as an 18-year-old, you will be tried as an adult and may spend time in jail or prison.
11. You can rent or buy a house/apartment.
Once you are a legal adult, you can go out on your own and sign a lease to rent. Finding your first place away from home is one of the most fun (and stressful) parts of adulthood – especially if you’re paying for rent yourself.
12. You can make your own medical decisions.
Don’t want to get that cavity filled? It may be a bad choice, but it’s yours to make when you turn 18. Legally, you can decide when you go to the doctor and what kind of medical treatments you receive if you ever find yourself in the hospital.
13. You can vote!
For the first time in your life, you can vote and have a say in the future of your country. Be sure to register to vote in time for the next election.
Of course, there are plenty more pros to becoming a legal adult, but these are a handful of the privileges of turning 18 that will impact your day-to-day life the most! Congrats on your newfound adulthood.