Child support is pivotal to the well-being of children whose parents have separated. The central idea of child support in New Jersey is that kids shouldn’t be economic victims in a divorce or separation. Rather, kids are entitled to share in their parents’ income, and parents have a legal, continuous duty to provide support until certain conditions are met.
More specifically, child support must be paid in New Jersey until a child is considered emancipated. What this means is essentially they’ve obtained independent status of their own. Although there are some circumstances under which a child automatically becomes emancipated, judges have some discretion depending on the needs, interests and independent interests of the child, the reasonable expectations of those involved the parents’ financial ability to provide.
Presumption of Emancipation in Child Custody Cases
According to N.J.S.A. 9:17B-3, there is a presumption that a child is emancipated when he or she either reaches the age of 19 or graduates high school - whichever happens last and is not enrolled full-time in college thereafter. When this happens, the parent paying child support can seek to have that support terminated.
If the custodial parent wants that support to continue, then it is his/her responsibility to overcome the presumption of emancipation and prove that it should continue. One way to overcome the presumption is to show that he/she remains a full-time student, therefore still a dependent with continuing support necessary. (If the child drops out or is going to school less-than-full-time, the parent paying for support can file for termination.)
Some conditions for which child support is automatically terminated administratively include:
- A child turns 19 and is not enrolled in full-time school.
- A child joins the military.
- A child marries.
- A child dies.
If there is no Court order to extend support at age 19, that’s probably when it will end, barring other exceptional circumstances. However, it’s important to know that age isn’t the factor considered when weighing termination of child support cases.
Parents can be obliged by the Court to continue paying child support while the child is in college, typically discontinuing when the child turns 23.
A child who is physically or mentally disabled may be entitled to support that continues beyond the age of 23. Support might be converted into some other type of financial maintenance.
Will I Be Notified?
If New Jersey child support is pending administrative termination (meaning the Court will no longer monitor the support), both the non-custodial and custodial parent will receive a Notice of Proposed Child Support Obligation Termination from the state probation department 180 days before the child turns 19. Hang onto this communication - maybe even make an electronic copy for backup - because it contains information on when monitoring of child support is slated to terminate and how the custodial parent can request continuation.
If the state doesn’t get a response, a second notice goes out 90 days later. In the event there is no continuation requested or granted, the monitoring of support payments will cease on the child’s 19th birthday (or whatever other date is specified in the notice). Updated Court orders will be issued to reflect this.
If you have questions or concerns about ending child support or making a request to continue it, our Freehold child support attorneys can help.
Contact our Freehold Child Custody Attorneys today at (732) 810-0034 to schedule an appointment.