Child Emancipation Attorneys Union County, NJ

Emancipation is the legal term for when a child is no longer the legal responsibility of his or her parents.

Many people assume parental rights and responsibilities–including child support–will end automatically when a child turns 18 years of age. While this is true in many states, it is not true in New Jersey. The laws have changed recently.  Read on to learn what is new.

What is Emancipation?

Family Law and Child Emancipation Attorneys Union County, NJEmancipated children are considered “adults” in the eyes of the court. Parents lose the right to make decisions on behalf of the child, but they are also excused from all financial support obligations–including child support.

In New Jersey, emancipation occurs at the discretion of the courts. In some cases, children may be emancipated before age 18. In other cases, children may continue receiving child support into their twenties (especially if they are attending college or grad school). In all emancipation cases, the court will review relevant facts and evidence to determine if the child remains “in the sphere of influence” of the parents.

Since emancipation is not traditionally an automatic process, how are separated or divorced parents supposed to know when to stop paying child support? Here are some good indicators that it might be a good time to consult a child support lawyer.

When your child:

  • Has gotten married.
  • Has joined the armed forces.
  • Is living outside the home.
  • Has a full-time job
  • Has graduated from high school with no plans to attend college.
  • Has graduated from college with no plans to attend graduate school

How Does the Issue of Emancipation Usually Come Up?

Frequently, emancipation comes up when a parent who pays child support wants to stop making payments for a child that parent believes has become independent and no longer requires financial support.  If the child’s other parent does not agree that support should be terminated, the paying parent must go to court and file a motion requesting the child be emancipated and thusly terminate support.

What Does the Law Say?

In 2017, New Jersey law was modified to make the emancipation process less cumbersome and time-consuming. The Termination of Child Support Statute specifies that child support payments automatically end when the child turns 19. Ending child support at age 19 does not require a separate court order as it had previously.

What Does the Law Say?For all child support obligations administered by the Probation Division, the Division will provide notice to both parents 180 days before the child’s 19th birthday. The notice will indicate that the child support obligation will terminate upon the child reaching age 19 and will explain how a parent may request the probation department to continue monitoring the obligation up to age 23.

If the Division receives no response, a second notice with the same information will be sent to both parents 90 days before the child turns age 19. If neither parent requests an extension of the child support obligation before the child turns age 19, the probation account will close and the obligation (through probation’s eyes) will automatically terminate on the child’s 19th birthday

There are many several exceptions to this rule, and for parents whose child support is administered through a New Jersey Child Support Enforcement Probation unit, the custodial parent can still apply for an extension before the child turns 19. The statute may not apply if a different age or condition for the termination of support was specified in a previous court order.

How Can I Get an Extension For Child Support?

Child support extension requests can continue until age 23. Under New Jersey law, child support will always end at age 23, no matter what. The parent or child may petition the court to convert the child support to another form of financial maintenance or financial support for a child that meets at least one of the following requirements:

  • A custodial parent can seek continuation of support for a child past the age of 19 by establishing an acceptable reason for continuation. The request must specify a new projected future date for termination.
  • The child is still in high school;
  • The child is enrolled full-time in a post-secondary program;
  • There are multiple children receiving child support. The emancipated child will no longer receive support so the court will adjust the payments based on the remaining minors rather than terminating the support altogether.

What About A Child With Disabilities?

In cases where a child is mentally or physically disabled and unable to support himself/herself at the age of majority, most states require parents to support their adult disabled children. Courts generally define “disability” as the inability to adequately care for oneself by earning a living. Support for an adult disabled child is determined in court by the needs of the child and balanced by the parents’ ability to provide support.

Retain an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Linden NJ Today

Child custody agreements, extensions, or terminations can be complex legal processes and every case is unique. At The Law Office of Edward S. Cooper, we are focused on providing constructive and effective legal solutions for clients across Elizabeth, Union, Plainfield, Westfield, and the greater Union County area.

Our unique approach to family law centers around creating family life plans out of family law problems. We understand just how important financial stability is to you and your children, and we are prepared to help you modify or enforce your child support agreement to reflect this importance. By listening carefully to all of your needs and concerns, and keeping you highly informed and involved throughout the legal process, we believe we can work together to achieve the results you need in your unique legal situation.

To schedule a confidential case assessment with our firm today, please contact us online, or through our Linden, NJ office at (908) 481-4625.