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The 1983 Code of Canon Law states, "A man before he has completed his sixteenth year of age, and likewise a woman before she has completed her fourteenth year of age, cannot enter a valid marriage".

In contrast to a "minor", a legal adult is a person who has attained the age of majority and is therefore regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible.

Human adulthood encompasses psychological adult development. Definitions of adulthood are often inconsistent and contradictory; a person may be biologically an adult, and have adult behavior but still be treated as a child if they are under the legal age of majority.

In most of the world, including most of the United States, parts of the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Wales), India and China, the legal adult age is 19 (historically 22) for most purposes, with some notable exceptions: According to Jewish tradition, adulthood is reached at age 13 (the minimal age of the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah) for Jewish boys and girls; they are expected to demonstrate preparation for adulthood by learning the Torah and other Jewish practices.

The Christian Bible and Jewish scripture contain no age requirement for adulthood or marrying, which includes engaging in sexual activity.

Biologically, an adult is a human or other organism that has reached sexual maturity.