When Does Child and Medical Support End in NJ?
Child Support Attorneys Discuss Children´s Rights and Emancipation Issues helping clients in Little Falls and across Passaic County
It is a common belief that children who receive child support from a non-custodial parent are automatically emancipated at the age of 18 and thus relieve the parent who pays of any responsibility for future payments. However, this is not true in many cases. Currently, New Jersey state law regarding children’s (or their primary custodial parent’s) right to child support is that children may not necessarily be deemed emancipated upon reaching the age of 18. The emancipation may occur later such as when the child completes full-time post-secondary education, gets married, dies, enters into military service, reaches the age of 19 or some other event that triggers emancipation under the law.
If you are facing a difficult legal situation, it is in your best interest to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney from our firm at once. We’d love to help. Call us at (97 3) 233-4396, or visit our website to fill out an online form.
The New Jersey Supreme Court addressed this exact issue in the case of Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982). The Court found that in certain circumstances, parenthood comes with it the responsibility of assuring a necessary education of children, which includes college and possibly even a post-graduate education. In such cases, a child’s emancipation can be deferred and the duty to provide support extended.
Furthermore, New Jersey courts have usually rejected arguments that attempted to equate a child reaching the age of 18 with automatic emancipation as in the case of Patetta v. Patetta and Dolce v. Dolce. In both cases, the court found that the conclusion of the fundamental dependent relationship between parent and child is not a self-executing principle and does not occur automatically simply by reason of the dependent child reaching the age of majority. Moreover, the court found that to determine when a child’s right to parental support should end, the issue needs to be whether the child has moved beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent and obtained an independent status of their own. This determination involves an extensive evaluation of several circumstances including the child’s needs, interests, and independent resources, the family’s reasonable expectations, and the parties’ financial ability, among other critical factors.
2016 Law Signed By Governor Christie S-1046/A-2721: Moves Child and Medical Support Age from 19 to 23
With this said, on January 19, 2016, Governor Christie signed S-1046/A-2721 into law. This law established 19 as the age when a child support and/or medical support obligation will end. The new law allows for child and/or medical support to continue up to age 23 for cases in which the dependent is still in high school; attending full-time college, vocational or graduate school; is disabled; if the parties reached a separate agreement; or if the court granted continued support.”
The Process of Emancipating Your Child
Though possible, emancipation at age 18 is by no means automatic. When your child reaches the age of 18 or becomes financially independent, either parent may file papers with the court asking that the child be “emancipated.” Taking several factors into consideration, the court will decide if the child still needs support from the parents. In the absence of a court order specifying a date, age, or circumstance when support stops, child support may terminate automatically when the child turns 19. However, a custodial parent has the right to request that support continue if they can prove that the child is still in high school, enrolled full-time in post-secondary education, the child is physically or mentally disabled as well as other factors that the court may consider.
Other Factors that Can Extend Child Support in NJ
- A court order specifies a different age for the termination of the obligation to pay child support
- Both parents consent and the court approves the continuation of support until another predetermined date
- The court extends the obligation to pay child support based on an application by a parent or the child filed prior to the child attaining the age of 19
It is very important for parents to remember that though in the past the burden was on the parent paying child support to prove to the court that child support should terminate, the current law puts more burden on the parent receiving child support to demonstrate why child support should continue. For this reason, if you are seeking any child support modification, it is critical that you have an experienced and skilled lawyer as your advocate.
Contact a Little Falls Child Support and Emancipation Attorney Today
Whether you’re paying child support or you need to collect it for on behalf of your children, you need a fair child support arrangement that works for all involved parties. Wrong negotiations in child support topics can lead to complicated situations and in the worst-case scenario, you´ll be unable to pay your bills. Parents going through a divorce should take the proper steps to reach satisfactory child support agreements so that it works for everyone involved. At The Montanari Law Group, our highly experienced family law attorneys are well-versed in the many facets of New Jersey law regarding child support. With extensive knowledge of New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines. Call our office to get to know you and start working on your case at (973) 233-4396 or fill out a contact form today.