As of January 19, 2016, there is a new NJ emancipation law. Prior to this
law being passed, the parent paying support had the burden to come to
court and ask for a child to be emancipated. Typically, child support
would not end until the child was “beyond the sphere of influence”
of the custodial parent. As you might imagine, this gave judges a great
deal of discretion when it came to determining if child support should
continue or if a child should be emancipated.
The new law streamlines the process and brings fairness to the paying parent.
Specifically, the new NJ emancipation law establishes 19 as the age when
a child support obligation will end. It does allow child support and/or
medical support to continue up to age 23 in cases where the child is either
still in high school, attending college or vocational school full-time,
is disabled, if the parties reached a different agreement, or if the court
finds another compelling reason to continue support. However, in the absence
of a specific reason for the continuation of child support, it ends at age 19.
The law is effective on February 1, 2017 and applies to all child support
orders, whether they were entered prior to or after that date. The primary
change to the law is that the burden will be on the parent receiving child
support to explain why child support should continue. Prior to the new
NJ Emancipation law, the paying parent had to come to court to ask for
child support to be terminated. In essence, this new law shifts the burden
to the custodial parent.
It is believed that this new NJ Emancipation law will work as follows.
If you are paying directly, you can simply stop paying support when your
child turns 19, and the custodial parent will have to come to court to
seek a continuation (although you should be careful about terminating
if you know there is a legitimate reason to continue support). If you
pay through the probation department, you will receive a notice about
five months prior to the child’s 19th birthday, wherein the custodial parent will be tasked with identifying
a reason for the continue of support. If there is no response or reason
given, another notice will be sent three months prior to the 19th birthday. If nothing is provided to the probation department to explain
why child support should be continued, child support will automatically
terminate on the child’s 19th birthday.
It is important to note that this new law will not apply if you have a
settlement agreement that sets forth the criteria for emancipation. If
your child is already 19 and there is no reason for continuation of child
support, it will automatically terminate on February 1, 2017, as the new
law is being phased in.
This new law seeks to make the child support process more fair to both
parents. If you have any questions about how it effects your family, do
not hesitate to contact our office at 732-529-6937. Remember that we will
not tell you what you want to hear. We will tell you what you need to know!