General Question

avaeve's avatar

When a child under the age of 18 works, does the money legally belong to the child or the parents?

Asked by avaeve (402points) February 4th, 2013

Since parents are legally obligated to support their children till they turn 18, does that mean any money earned by a child under 18, legally belongs to the parents?

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28 Answers

SamandMax's avatar

I would have thought not. As far as I’m aware, there is no law to stipulate that a child earning money should not be or is not entitled to the money they themselves earn. Don’t you think that would be slavery by proxy?

avaeve's avatar

Yeah, but then by your logic, the parents would be able to charge the child for food, clothing, rent, etc.

SamandMax's avatar

No. Not really. You’re looking far too heavily between the lines of plain English presented before you I’m afraid. At no particular juncture was I aiming at – and nor would I recommend nor suggest – that parents should be able to charge their child/children for rent/food/clothing – at least not until they are of an age of legal responsibility for their own actions.

avaeve's avatar

You mentioned slavery. If the working child isn’t a slave, then the parents don’t have to provide support. Since the parents do have to legally provide support and have legal authoritative power over the child, then it would make sense for them to have legal control over the child’s assets.

You seem to be suggesting that the child is legally a slave to the parents but not when it comes to whatever money the child earns.

Although I appreciate your opinion, I’m looking for resources where I can read the actual laws regarding this.

Fly's avatar

No, it still belongs to the child. For example, a check written in the child’s name cannot be claimed by the parents.

avaeve's avatar

Where are you getting your information from? What resources are you using?

Unbroken's avatar

However a child until the age of 18 and not legally emancipated can’t get a lone or have their own bank account with their parent or gaurdian being joint one that account.

Fly's avatar

@avaeve…General knowledge? Just use common sense, for a moment- you can’t deposit a check to an account other than one in the name of the addressee, nor can you cash a check unless you are the addressee or you have explicit, signed permission from the addressee. So, how would a parent even go about claiming said money for themselves? I’m sorry, I can’t link you to an exact law, and I’m not sure that there is one particular law that specifically addresses this. What are you looking for, exactly?

avaeve's avatar

I’m looking to read the official federal and state laws regarding the powers and limitations parents have over their children monetary earnings.

SamandMax's avatar

That’s a lot of legal legwork. Especially when the law differs from State to State.

avaeve's avatar


Okay, I ended up finding the answer on my own.

§ 703. Services and earnings of minor child.

The father and mother of a minor child are equally entitled to its services and earnings, and if 1 of the parents is dead or has abandoned the child or has been deprived of its custody by court decree the other parent shall be entitled to such services and earnings.

35 Del. Laws, c. 191, § 2; Code 1935, § 3577; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 703.; link

As @rosehips said, despite the check being written to the child’s name, the child will be cashing the check to a bank account that is controlled by the parents and as the law says, they’re entitled to the child’s earnings.

Thank you all for your help.

Fly's avatar

@avaeve I stand corrected, glad you found what you were looking for. I’m on my phone at the moment, otherwise I would have looked into it further- my apologies for not being much help. I’m honestly quite surprised that’s the case, I don’t think I’ve heard of a parent claiming their child’s money in such a manner. @rosehips does have a good point about the accounts, but at least in my case, my dad was never even given the information he would need to access my accounts, though his name is officially also on the accounts. I have to say, though, that I think I would call a parent actually claiming their child’s money into question.

Unbroken's avatar

I apologize for my gross misspellings, I am also on my phone and was paying less attention then I should.

zenvelo's avatar

Except that the Coogan Act prevents the parents from being allowed access to some of the money earned by child actors and performers.

The Coogan Act is a California law.

RandomGirl's avatar

I’m 16. I have a part-time job. The money is really pocket change, but it’s mine – I worked for it, and I can do with it what I want. I’m saving for a car. I’ll get it in about a year or two. If my parents suddenly said the money I’m earning was theirs, I would not be happy. Of course, if they were having trouble putting food on the table, or something like that, I would pitch in as much as I could – but of my own free will!

livelaughlove21's avatar

I figured that was the case. I work at a bank and we always cash checks made out to minors when only a parent is present.

@RandomGirl The OP was asking from a legal standpoint and, legally, your parents are entitled to that money. It SHOULD be yours if you worked for it, but the law says otherwise.

RandomGirl's avatar

Really? I’ve never heard that. I wonder if Minnesota has laws saying parents aren’t entitled to a child’s earnings. No banks in our area would let my dad cash my check.

echotech10's avatar

Any money that a child earns while living with their parents/under 18 is the child’s money! I am a father, and while my daughter is not old enough to work yet, I would never expect her to turn her money over to her mother and I. This is regardless of the fact that her mother and I are supporting her. We as parents are LEGALLY OBLIGATED to support our child. If and when my daughter goes out and earns a paycheck from a part time job…that is HER money. Parents have no legal rights to their children’s earnings. If the child wants to contribute to the household, more power to him/her.

When I was still living at home as a child/young adult…my parents did not ask for a dime from me, as a matter of fact, they gave my brothers and I additional money for things as a reward for going out to earn a paycheck.

marinelife's avatar

The child.

SamandMax's avatar

You do of course realize that your link pertains to State law and not Federal law, which basically over-rides State law should it have a contradictory entry that suggests otherwise?

avaeve's avatar

From what I read, there is no federal law. It’s handled on a state by state bases, so legally speaking, state law says the parents can take all the money earned from a child until the age of 18.

Some states have exceptions, like @zenvelo pointed out in California for underaged actors.

whitenoise's avatar

It depends on what country you ask for. In The Netherlands, a parent / guardian has perhaps no ownership but still a lot of control over their children’s money as long as they are under age and under their guardianship.

In some countries a woman cannot have full control herself regardless if age and children may have to pay ‘alimony’ to their divorced father.

SamandMax's avatar

A Minor Child? Suggests that the child in that article would not be entitled to work in the first place.

avaeve's avatar

It’s not true. There are jobs with no legal age requirements, like cleaning someone’s house, or babysitting. It just can’t be done during school hours unless you homeschool.

For jobs that do require legal age, it starts from age 14.

avaeve's avatar

No legal age requirement for acting or radio work either or delivering newspapers or working with one of the parents in the family owned business as long as it’s non-hazardous.

SamandMax's avatar

Well when I was a kid and I was working, my bank account was my own business and my parents had very little say in the matter. So I don’t know exactly what kind of drugs the State were consuming when they spouted forth that particular bit of legal drivel. I still think as I’ve already said, that the law may differ across States so to me, this issue is neither here nor there. I think you would be better off discussing the finer points of this particular issue with someone of a much better professional and qualified standing.

Are there any lawyers in the house?

Inspired_2write's avatar

I am not a lawyer but think that the money the child earns is held in “trust” for that child until he/she reaches the age of majority etc.
Even “if” the childs parents take his/her money the child still has recourse to go to a lawyer for the earnings..however not advised as the child would allienate himself/herself from the family causing more reprecussions in the long run.

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