How to Do Business with a Minor in California
A contract with a minor is a little more complicated than a contract with an adult.
Make Sure Your Contract is the Kind That Can Be Court ApprovedMinors aren't legally able to enter into contracts because they're too young to understand the importance of a contract. But they can enter into contracts if their parent or legal guardian agrees. And if the parent or legal guardian actually signs the contract, then they're bound by it, even if it's not court approved.
But if the parent or guardian doesn't sign it, you need court approval. The purpose of getting a court to approve your contract with a minor is so the minor can't "disaffirm" it, that is, walk away from it without needing to honor it.
The first kind of minor's contract that a court can approve is one that employs a minor to perform artistic or creative services, like as an actor/actress, dancer, musician, comedian, singer, stunt-person, voice-over artist, songwriter, musical producer or arranger, writer, director, producer, production executive, choreographer, composer, conductor, or designer.
The second kind of contract that a court can approve is one in which a minor agrees to buy, sell or license some literary, musical, or dramatic property, or use someone's likeness, voice, performance, or life story in a film, TV, sound recordings, or the stage.
The third kind of contract that a court can approve is one hiring the minor to play a sport.
These first three kinds of contracts are provided for in Family Code section 6750.
The fourth kind of contract a court can approve is when a licensed talent agency wants to sign a minor, which is covered by Labor Code section 1700.37.
Your Contract Should be Signed by the Minor and Their Parent (or Guardian)Make sure your contract is signed by the minor and one of their parents, or their legal guardian, if they have one.
Your Petition to the Court for Approval of the Contract Should Include "Coogan" provisions. This law, named after Jackie Coogan, was written to protect a minor from their parents stealing their money, like Coogan's parents did. It requires whoever hires the minor to set aside 15% of the minor's gross earnings and keep in in trust, in an account or other savings plan, and preserved for the minor's benefit.
Make sure the parent signs! If there's a breach, you can sue the parent for the minor's breach.
File Your Petition and Proposed Order With the CourtIn Los Angeles County, you also need a Civil Case Cover Sheet specifying that you are seeking court approval of a minor's contract, and you must pay the Petition filing fee to the court.
Attach a copy of the contract you want approved to your Petition.
Your Proposed Order should track the language in your Petition, so the judge will order just what you've asked for.
The process takes a couple of months, so plan ahead if you need court approval by a deadline..