When Do You Reach the Age of Majority?

Legal Age of Adulthood by State

age of majority
The age of majority varies by state. Richard Nowitz/Creative RM/Getty

The age of majority is the age at which you are considered an adult and responsible for your actions in the legal sense. Up until the age of majority, you are considered a minor—a child.

This age varies​ from state to state, but in most states, the age is 18. Generally, the age of majority is designated sometime between age 18 and 21 in the U.S.

What It Is

Age of majority basically means that you are in control of yourself now. Whereas, prior to the age of majority, you were the responsibility of your parents or guardians. Age of majority terminates your parents' or guardians' authority over you.

What It Is Not

The age of majority is different than the age of consent. The age of consent also varies by state and is considered the age at which someone can legally consent to sexual relations.

Marriageable ages also vary ​from state to state and are not the same as the age of majority, driving age, legal drinking age, smoking age, voting age, enlisting age, and gambling age. Each of these is considered an "age of license," and individual states or federal laws have different opinions on when these activities are legal. An age of license is an age at which one has legal permission from the government to do something, for example, when you can apply for a "marriage license" or "driver's license."

Emancipation Difference

A child who is legally emancipated by a court automatically, in advance of reaching the age of majority, will attain maturity upon the signing of the court order. Emancipation confers the status of maturity before a person has actually reached the age of majority.

In almost all places, minors who are married are automatically emancipated. Some places also do the same for minors who are in the armed forces or who have a certain degree or diploma.

Age of Majority by State

Age 18 is the age of majority for most states, though the age to marry differs from state to state. Only Alabama, Mississippi, and Nebraska have higher majority ages.

Religious Age of Majority

Major world religions, like Islam, Judaism, and Roman Catholicism, have something to say about the age of majority. According to religious beliefs in Judaism, a male becomes an adult at age 13, and a female becomes an adult at 12. Islam claims a person who is 15 or who has entered puberty is considered an adult. And, in the Roman Catholic Church, you are considered an adult at age 18.