THE END OF CHILD SUPPORT
A common false perception is that child support will always automatically
stop when a child reaches the age of eighteen and no longer in school.
Although that is currently the state of the law in New Jersey, that will
soon change. A new law has been enacted in New Jersey that changes the
rules. Under the new law, child support may not automatically terminate
until a child reaches the age of nineteen. However, there are some important
nuances to this law.
When a child reaches the age of eighteen and becomes financially independent,
the paying parent or the parent receiving payment can file a petition
with the court to
. Emancipation will terminate the child support obligation. However, emancipation
requires more than simply reaching the age of eighteen; it must also be
demonstrated that the child is no longer within “the sphere of influence
and control” of the parents, which usually requires that the child
is financially independent.
There are also some occasions when child support may be ordered to continue
past the age of nineteen. Under the new law, parent receiving child support
will be able to request that support continue in certain circumstances.
These circumstances include if the child is still in high school, is enrolled
in full-time post-secondary education (i.e. college), or is somehow mentally
or physically disabled.
The law also provides that although the child support will automatically
terminate at the age of nineteen, the court can continue it in effect
but not past the age of 23. The law also requires that if the custodial
parent wishes to file a request to have support extend past the child’s
nineteenth birthday, he or she must file this request before the child
turns nineteen. The new law takes effect on February 1, 2017.
The best way to avoid future confusion or litigation over when a child
support obligation ends is to specify the date in the final order of child
support, whether that is included in a divorce, child custody case, or
simply a child support case standing alone. If there is a provision already
establishing, for example, that the parent paying support may automatically
cease child support at the date the child graduates high school, that
will simplify matters. Be aware, though, that such a provision will not
strip the other parent of the right under the new law to petition the
court to request that child support continue due to college or disability
Child support and abiding by a court’s orders can be confusing. Especially
now when the law is changing, it is important to
about your rights and responsibilities. Call us today at (732) 479-4711
to make an appointment to discuss your particular order.