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January 30, 2015

Pardalis & Nohavicka Entertainment Law Update: Entertainment Contracts With Kids Can Protect All Parties

Usually, it is not illegal to enter into a contract with a minor. The contract is voidable at the discretion of the minor. Voidable contracts are usually valid contracts and are binding unless the child cancels it.  It is important to seek judicial approval of  the contract; if the contracts are approved, the infant may not, either during her minority or upon reaching majority, disaffirm the agreements on the ground of infancy. Arts and Cultural Affairs Law §35.03[1]). We file in Surrogate's Court.  The court will assure that all is in accord with the infant's interests; and that the contracts meet the statutory requirements of Arts and Cultural Affairs Law §35.03.

It must be demonstrated to the court the terms of the contract are typical or, in some respects, are more favorable to the infant than is typical; that the infant understands their obligations under the contracts; wants to pursue a career in music; they are ready and willing to meet those obligations; and, that the financial terms of the contract are fair to the minor and their family. It is also important to request that the court records be sealed.  Uniform Rules for Trial Courts (22 NYCRR 216.1).That is to protect the minor and their family because the court must review personal and financial information and the financial details of the proposed agreements, which, if publically revealed, not only carries the risk of subjecting the child and the family to unwanted and undeserved public attention, but could also harm their  competitive standing in the music industry.
In our petitions Pardalis & Nohavicka also ask the court to appoint the minor's parents as limited guardians to receive a portion of the minor's net earnings, pursuant to Arts and Cultural Affairs Law §35.03(3).  The minor and their parents should be represented by an experienced entertainment lawyer during the contract negotiations.
Here is a good case to help you figure it out: Matter of Skutch Music Publ., Inc. (Diaz) http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/pdfs/2015/2015_30018.pdf

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