Legal Status of a 17 yr old cadet

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by OBXmom, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    I understand some cadets are only 17 years old. I'm curious; since they are active duty military, are they still legally considered a minor? For example: My son is an 18 year old basic cadet. Since he's 18, he signs all his own contracts, medical authorizations etc because legally, he's an adult. My question is:
    With a 17 year old cadet:
    a. Do mom or dad still have to sign for them?
    b. Are they still a minor but the Air Force became their legal guardian when they entered the Academy?
    c. Are they some how no longer a minor due to their active duty military status?
    d. Other

    (I am interested legal capacity NOT dependency status for taxes)
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  2. onlyplaying

    onlyplaying 2014 Cadet Mom

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    When my daughter accepted her appointment in January, I remember we sat down together and she filled out the paperwork and I believe I signed one paper and she signed the rest. Then we kissed them goodbye and mailed them off. I don't remember signing anything since and she won't be 18 until September. So, it's safe to say, she's on her own. She even had to fill out the medical one authorizing whether or not I could know about her medical conditions.
     
  3. bandit

    bandit Member

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    I believe their status would be that of an Emancipated Minor.

    which defined is:

    Emancipation of minors is a legal mechanism by which a minor is freed from control by their parents or guardians, and the parents or guardians are freed from any and all responsibility toward the child. Until an emancipation is granted by a court, a minor is still subject to the rules of their parents or guardians.

    In most countries of the world, adolescents below the legal age of majority (adulthood) may be emancipated in some manner: through marriage, attaining economic self-sufficiency, obtaining an educational degree or diploma, or participating in a form of military service.
     
  4. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    Thank you for the info! I am, however, in need of facts (quote from an Academy source or actual law.) I find myself in the loathsome position of being embroiled in a pissing contest, and I need a rock to step up on to get myself out! I promise, I will avoid this trap in the future!
    I am googling my little fingers to the bone, and am hoping someone here might know which way to point me!

    I am googling emancipated minor now! Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  5. bandit

    bandit Member

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    an academy source? Here is your source

    This was sent out as part of an email to all parents club presidents from Barbara G.

    Um, they are active military. active military makes them emancipated minors. Being at the academy has nothing to do with it. It is the active military that makes them emancipated, not being at the academy.

    As for your pissing contest on webguy. This probably doesn't help your situation much.
     
  6. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Bandit is completely correct on this matter. Once the parent signs the initial "permission" form for the applicant, once that individual takes the oath at the academy, they are 100% emancipated and 100% responsible for themselves and their actions. Even at 17 years old, the parent can NOT call the academy for any type of medical, academic, etc... status on their 17 year old son/daughter unless said cadet has filled out a release form to allow such information be released to the parents. And the academy is not the only place this happens. Many high school graduates who enlist in the military are also 17 years old. The parent must sign a permission form for them to enlist. But once they have enlisted, they are 100% emancipated and completely responsible for themselves. Parents can't claim them on taxes or any other dependency issue. "Other than the portion of the tax year that the individual was a dependent".

    For what it's worth, we had a situation 2 years ago where a child of a military parent went to the academy; at 17 years old. Half way through BCT, the young woman quit BCT and the academy. The young lady went back home and started traditional college. The military parent automatically believed that she was "STILL" their dependent, and thus covered under their Tricare family medical plan. Tricare told them that she wasn't their dependent and wasn't covered. Not sure if they were able to work it out or not, or if they had to get her private medical insurance. But I do know that the moment your son/daughter puts their hand up and says: "I DO", ALL dependency ties are cut. They are legal adults at that moment. They can sign legal contracts, get loans, get married (Except cadets), etc... Mike.....
     
  7. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    Thanks Bandit, but I don't consider that a pissing contest. That's just a lot of great parents trying to put smiles on their basics faces as we wind our way through this new terrain while trying not to muck things up. We got a little muddy, thats all.

    Maybe you can help. In an email someone told me that a minor cadet lacked contractual capacity. Without divulging details its in relation to the transaction, I was under the impression that being active duty did put them in a legal category that gave them contractual capacity.

    There is a difference between void and voidable contracts. A contract with a minor is voidable at the wishes of the minor at any time, thats why most places won't contract with minors. You CAN do it, its just stupid.

    The emancipation laws can actually be interpreted by the state courts differently in regard to service academies from what I've been reading so far. Even though our children are active duty, the MD state court for example doesn't count sevice academy attendance towards the military aspect of emancipated minor. Whew! Didn't really want to get into all that here, but maybe there are some legal eagles in the room who would know?
     
  8. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    Thanks Christcorp! That was my thinking, that once they went in they have contractual capacity.
     
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Well, you've received the correct answer. My answer to any discussion/argument you might be having with a parent of a 17 year old cadet, would be to tell them to call the academy and ask them why their child is no longer a legal dependent and is considered an adult.

    Remember, being legally an emancipated adult doesn't mean you automatically receive all "PRIVILEGES". E.g. An 18 year old is LEGALLY an adult, but they can not buy alcohol. A 17 year old in the military is LEGALLY an adult, but they can NOT VOTE!!!!

    And for what it's worth, contracts are simply agreements between 2 parties that agree on terms. If a rental car agency doesn't want to rent cars to anyone below the age of 21 year, that is their right and choice. You don't have a "RIGHT" to rent a car. Just like they can mandate that you have a credit card.

    So yes, this type of discussion can turn into a pissing contest. While the intentions are good, and people are simply wanting to know the truth, the truth is subjective. The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT accepts contracts with 17 year olds, IF they are in the military. Being the federal government accepts these contracts, the entire federal government; e.g. IRS; considers that person a legal adult. But again, that doesn't mean they can vote if not 18. Or can buy alcohol until 21. And if a car company in your state won't sell the 17 year old military a car because they don't want to recognize them as a legal adult, that is their right. it's their money and their cars. They could make the age limit 25 years old if they wanted to. You don't have a right to buy a car or any of these other areas we are speaking of.

    So, if you want to discuss "Legal Age" of a cadet/enlisted person at 17 years old, then it MUST be kept in perspective. Kept in context of "Federal" law. State laws are totally irrelevant. Why? Because the state isn't the one entering into a contract. However, you may find certain states that DON'T allow 17 year olds to join their national guard as a legal adult. Anyway, this is the best answer you are going to get. The question you are asking is subjective. If you want to discuss the "Federal" government, you've been given the answer. If you want to speak of state government and private corporate issues, that is totally a different situation. Hope this clarifies. mike....
     
  10. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    Mike,
    Thanks so much for sharing your knowlege. I find law facinating and it just so happens this is a very intricate issue when dealing with it on the state level. When someone has legal authority to act on behalf of a minor (in estate/inheritance issues) and that 17 year old minor then enters a service academy, does that automatically end the arrangement the same as if the person turned 18? (It is very open to interpretation on the state level from what I can put my hands on. But its very interesting reading!) Sounds like one of those things the attorneys would make all the money on because it could stay in court for a very long time!
     
  11. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    Here is a link. If you scroll down to What if the minor is in the military you see just a few of the differences between states. And I was wrong in saying MD, I should have said OH. Here is the link. Its to the Maryland State Law Library.

    http://www.peoples-law.org/children/emancipation/if a minor.htm

    Thats why I find law interesting. Many times two people can be arguing two completely opposing sides of an issue and you can find case law to support each side. It makes for some fun arguments!

    (And in case anyone is wondering, to me, a pissing contest is a chance to hone your wits, and possibly learn something...depending on how carefully you pick your opponent! It beats watching soaps any day, but thats just me!)
     
  12. onlyplaying

    onlyplaying 2014 Cadet Mom

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    Since my BC is still of a minor age, I'm finding all of this very interesting. But in all honestly, my thought on it, is that because she has demonstrated the maturity level of accepting the responsibility of entering the Academy and therefore, becoming part of military service, I wouldn't care what the laws say, what contractual agreements may or may not be voided, or any of the other issues there may be concerns about...I wouldn't be doing anything regarding these issues for her, without her stating her position on it. I know deep down, we want to think they are our children and we need to take care of them, but with the decisions they have already made, I think we just need to start talking to them as adults. Allowing them input and maybe even making bad decisions. We've all been young adults and have all made our own mistakes. Guidance is one thing, but still wanting to make their decisions or doing everything for them, or thinking we are doing things for them...that probably really went out the window before they hit senior year of high school.

    So I say, before any parent says, "You're not 18, I can still make decisions for you", step back and ask, is it really in their best interest, or just making me feel like I'm still in control? Your child will know what's best with for them whether we think it or not. And really, they probably will come asking for help and answers if given the chance. Heck, at 45 I still call my Mom and Dad asking for advice. It comes with the territory of letting your kids grow up and move on.
     
  13. ProudMom

    ProudMom Member

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    Very well said.
     
  14. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    Very interesting! Listen to this...

    Lets say a minor receives an inheritance. Since minors cannot administer investments/real estate etc, a common way for this to be handled is a "custodial trust." The property belongs to the minor but is controlled by the account custodian until the minor reaches the age of 21. Well in the state of MD, the custodian can be paid up to $5000/year for for doing this until the minor reaches 18 years of age. (Md. Estates & Trusts Article §13-501).

    Combine that with the fact that some states have case law where entering an academy does not trigger emancipation. For example:

    "In Ohio, one court in a support modification action decided that entering an academy is not the same as entering the military. Howard v. Howard, 80 Ohio App. 3d 832, 610 N.E.2d 1152 (1992)

    However, courts in other states have decided that enrollment in a military academy is the same as entering active duty with the military. Accord Zuckerman v. Zuckerman, 154 A.D.2d 666, 546 N.Y.S.2d 666 (2nd Dep't 1989) and Porath v. McVey, 884 S.W.2d 692 (Mo. Ct. App. 1994)"

    Now add to that, this interesting tidbit:

    "In general, a minor who enters the armed forces is likely to be seen as emancipated. This is because the government is considered to now exercise the type of control a parent might otherwise have.

    However, in Maryland, there is no specific law declaring a member of the military emancipated from his/her parents."

    In other words its open to interpretation. (Could go on in court for a very long time!)

    So, pretend for a minute a 17 year old cadet has three younger siblings and and they each had trust accounts being controlled by an unscrupulous account custodian who was paying themselves $20,000/year to administer the trust (4 minors x $5000 as provided by MD law).

    Could the cadet seek from the courts the ability to not only control his own trust, but to serve as account custodian to his three younger siblings?

    Its a very interesting issue I think. He could seek to do so, but there is case law to support both sides.

    You see the length I have to go through to distract myself from wondering why I haven't seen my basic on Webguy???? :shake:
     
  15. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    This exact scenario was the first thing that crossed my mind when you made your original post. You are competely correct. Different states, different judges, and different interpretations. It depends. And the 'depending' could get expensive.
     
  16. bandit

    bandit Member

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    I think it depends on how it is written.

    If it is like you posted.

    Then it clearly says 18 years of age. Nothing about becoming an adult or anything subjective. It says 18 years of age.

    Nothing about being emancipated or going into the military is going to change that.
     
  17. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    Not so in the legal world bandit. The 18 as written, could be argued in court to represent the age at which emancipation would automatically take place (which is MD state law). The attorney could argue that since emancipation did in fact occur the day he took his oath, then all rights afforded to him by the state of MD at the age of 18 should in fact be bestowed on him from the time he did enter the academy. Since there are no parents providing support and since the cadet is currently supporting himself from his earnings at the academy alone, I think a judge would have a hard time denying him the benefits of emancipation upon entering the academy.

    The argument to have the right to administer the trust for his siblings would be the legal tangle. But I feel very strong arguments could be made in his favor.

    The opposing attorney would have enough case law on his side (and enough economic incentive) to tie the thing up in court for a very long time.

    The age of the younger siblings would probably determine if it was worth going for or not.

    PS Bandit...there is little in a courtroom that with good attorneys and plenty of research is not subjective. Thats why there are so many attorneys!
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  18. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Not saying that it happens often, but I have seen a case or two; and I wouldn't be surprised if steve (Flieger) saw also, where a parent was so against their child being involved with the military, that they wouldn't sign any of the paperwork for their academy application. The only real advise was: "Appease mom/dad, go to civilian college, you'll be 18 when you graduate high school or shortly after, apply for the academy then, back door apply for ROTC scholarship, and be prepared for mom/dad to cut you off of all college assistance. One individual did get an ROTC scholarship for years 2-4. They worked things out with mom. The other one turned 18 prior to college starting, and enlisted instead. Not sure if they worked out things with their parents or not.

    But there are definitely some controls that mom/dad have over the 17 year old applying. My parents had to sign for me at 17. They said they'd sign as long as I didn't join the Army or Marines. (Too many relatives injured/died in vietnam, korea, WWII; and I came in just a couple years after the final vietnam pullout. 1978). I said cool, I wanted air force anyway. Boy was mom shocked when I started mentioning names like grenada, panama, libya, etc... By then it was a little too late. But fortunately, I survived and so did she. Point is, there's a lot of parents that don't realize that when they sign that paper for their 17 year old, and that 17 year old takes the oath, Mom and dad have no more legal rights over their son/daughter's decisions. Even though the vast majority of 17 year olds will turn 18 literally within a few weeks/months of joining the military; either academy or enlisted; many parents get a false sense of "Entitlement".

    Especially the academy. A parent with a student going to college, basically has a lot of say so for their children until they are almost 22 years old. Until they graduate, mom/dad are usually assisting in a major portion of the college. Financially, emotionally, still home for holidays/summer/breaks, etc... But when the son/daughter goes to the academy, the ONLY say-so that the parents have now over their son/daughter, is whatever the son/daughter ALLOWS THEIR PARENTS TO HAVE. That is the toughest part for a cadet parent. A civilian college parent has 4-5 years to gradually break away and let their child have full independence. A cadet parent has about 17 minutes. (That's the average time of saying goodbye, either at the airport or at the AOG center). Once that cadet says the oath, the parent no longer has any "LEGAL" position. Definitely difficult to swallow.

    Anyway, we could talk law all day. As mentioned, when such questions come up, we have to be talking Apples and Apples. Federal, state, privileges vs rights, etc... I've brought many of these similar questions up to my wife and lawyers at the firm she works at. The answers are usually: "Be more specific". It all depends on the context of the discussion.
     
  19. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    P.S. on the posts made while I was responding to the last one.

    1. The $5,000 that the person administrating the trust has, is simply an example. The actual amount is usually, in most states, a percentage of the actual trust/estate. I.e. If it's a $100,000 trust, and the individual is administering it for 10 years for 4 children, that would be $200,000. That would be a "Negative" number. Never going to happen. The administrator can not arbitrarily take the maximum number. That number is generally decided by the courts and the estate.

    2. One problem with the example being used is: If the military member is 17, looking for legal administration of an estate or similar, who was their "LEGAL GUARDIAN" who signed the papers to allow him/her to join the military in the first place. That person probably would have also been the one administering the estate. How did the 17 year old even get into the military.

    Things that make you go hmmmmmmm. later... mike....
     
  20. OBXmom

    OBXmom Member

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    So true Cristcorp. In this case the custodial guardian was not the same person as the account custodian. In the absence of parents, custody was handled by one side of the family. The (multigenerational) Trust originated on the other side of the family and had a designated account custodian. So if I'm not mistaken, the custodial guardian would have been the one to sign the papers for the cadet to go in the military at 17.

    (By the way, not current cadet, not exact circumstances, I'm not airing anyones situation. Never did go to court. But with the way the laws are its an interesting legal situation.)

    I agree wholeheartedly with you about the shock the new status of the cadet presents to the parents. I come from a military family (father was a Marine Corps Drill Instructor at Paris Island, and my brother is a USNA grad). I supported my son proudly through the whole process, and knew what was coming. But let me tell ya...that second letter I received from Basic...the one where he casually mentioned he had surgery on his toe the week before!!! Its a gut-check! But its right. He's in good hands, and I couldn't be more proud of him.

    Like you said...all in 17 minutes...what a crazy rollercoaster ride!

    :shake:
     

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