The age of majority sets the age at which a child becomes a ‘major’ (this is a legal term for ‘adult’). A child who reaches the age of majority is able to conclude valid contracts without parental assistance (e.g. marriage and employment contracts).
Majority status can also be acquired by a child under 18 if they get married (see the ‘marriage’ section for information on the circumstances under which children under 18 can get married).
- The age of majority used to be 21 but was changed in 2007 to bring it in line with the definition of a child in the Constitution.
- The child protection provisions in the Bill of Rights and the Children’s Act are afforded to all persons under the age of 18.
- It is a question for debate whether a child under 18 who acquires majority status through marriage, remains a “child” for the purposes of the Bill of Rights and the Children’s Act or whether such a child loses the protection of section 28 in the Bill of Rights or the provisions set out in the Children’s Act.