from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Germany , Austria and Switzerland , a person under the age of 18, i.e. until they come of age , is considered a minor . Minors are under special legal protection and have limited rights and obligations.


The Roman law knew some protection of minors. A Roman citizen became fully legal at the age of fourteen, but young people could still be placed under the protection of a guardian ( curator ) up to the age of twenty-five .

In the European Middle Ages a distinction was made between infantia , the early childhood up to about seven years, and pueritia , the age from seven years to marrying, for boys at fourteen and for girls at twelve. The pueritia was followed by the adolescentia . People over fourteen were generally considered to be of legal age, with women legally transferring from the father's guardianship to that of the husband upon marriage. The infantia included the actual childhood, during which the child remained in the custody of the mother. The pueritia was the time of training, the v. a. took place in boys outside the parental home. According to medieval law, children could enjoy protection during infantia and pueritia . The Anglo-Saxon legal code of King Aethelstan (10th century), for example, stipulated that thieves under the age of twelve could not be punished. Conversely, however, the child was considered the property of the father during infantia and, under certain circumstances, could be sold into slavery. Following the Roman model, heirs under the age of fourteen were placed under guardianship. The Magna Charta (1215) guarantees that the guardian must cede the inheritance to the actual heir as soon as he comes of age.


German age definitions up to 30th birthday
term 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 10 11 12 13 14th 15th 16 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 22nd 23 24 25th 26th 27 28 29
infant Yes No
small child part Yes part part No
childhood No early middle late No
child Yes part part No
student No Yes part No
teenager No Yes No
Teenager No Yes part No
Youth ( UN ) No part Yes part part No
Youth ( shell ) No Yes No
Age of consent Yes part part No
Minor Yes No
Child benefit Yes part part once No
young person part Yes part part No
teenager No Yes No
young adult No Yes No
of legal age No Yes
criminal responsibility No formerly part Yes Yes
legally competent No part part part part Yes
FSK / USK 0 6th 12 16 18th

Legal capacity

In the case of the legal capacity of minors, a distinction must be made between the phase before and after reaching the age of seven.

Minors up to the age of seven are incapable of doing business ( Section 104 (1) BGB ). So you cannot legally bind yourself ; any legally significant will is denied to them, their declarations of intent are void , § 105 paragraph 1 BGB .

A minor who has reached the age of seven is limited in his legal capacity in accordance with § 106 BGB i. V. m. §§ 107 to 113 BGB. He requires a declaration of intent through which he does not only obtain a legal advantage, the (prior) consent of his legal representative. A contract concluded without such consent is pending ineffective ( § 107 BGB). It can become effective with the subsequent approval of the legal representative ( § 108 BGB). Insofar as the minor has been given funds for certain purposes or for free disposal by the legal representative (for example pocket money), the minor can conclude effective contracts to this extent, Section 110 BGB ( pocket money paragraph ).

However, neither the legal incapacity nor the limited legal capacity have an impact on the ability to pass on declarations of intent of (unlimited) persons with legal capacity (as “messengers”). So z. B. Children as messengers of explanation legally buy for their parents.


Minors are not liable for their actions up to the age of seven ( liability privilege ), unless liability is required by the principles of equity . Thereafter, minors are only liable until they reach the age of majority if they can see their injustice.

Parents are only liable if they have violated their duty of supervision . However, it is excluded if the damage would have occurred even with proper supervision.


A minor is a person who has not yet reached the age of 18. A minor who has reached the age of 14 but not yet 18 is a young person. This is stipulated in Section 21 of the General Civil Code , Section 1 of the Youth Courts Act 1988 and Section 74 of the Criminal Code .


From July 1, 1973 to June 30, 2001, a person up to the age of 19 was a minor in the ABGB . Within this group, those who had not yet reached the age of 14 were referred to as minors and those who had not yet reached the age of 7 as children. In the course of time, various laws reduced the age of majority to 18 years.

In Switzerland too, the age of majority has been reduced from 21 to 18 years.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Minors  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. ^ David Johnston: Roman law in context. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge et al. 1999, ISBN 0-521-63046-0 , p. 41.
  2. Cornelia Hain: Introduction to the Middle Ages. Section: Childhood in the Middle Ages.
  3. Eva Mitterdorfer: Childhood in the Middle Ages. Legal, biological and educational aspects. Typewritten phil. Diploma thesis Salzburg 1992; Klaus Arnold : child. In: Robert-Henri Bautier , Robert Anty (Ed.): Lexicon of the Middle Ages. Volume 5: Hiera means to Lucania. Artemis and Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1991, ISBN 3-7608-8905-0 , Sp. 1142–1145.
  4. ^ Henry Adams : Essays in Anglo-Saxon Law. 2nd printing. The Lawbook Exchange Ltd., Clark NJ 2004, ISBN 1-584-77435-5 , p 153. The right to infanticide was, however, only as long as the baby had taken no food ( neonaticide ).
  5. In the state of Bavaria , vocational school is compulsory up to the age of 21; see BayEUG , Art. 39 .
  6. Child benefit is currently granted for disabled children in Germany without any age limit.
  7. General Civil Code - Section 21, valid from July 1, 1973 to June 30, 2001 , Federal Legal Information System