What Is New Jersey’s Emancipation Law?
The Emancipation of a child is when they no longer have support and control from either of their parents.
This means that parents no longer have the right to make decisions on their behalf or the responsibility of financially supporting them. This is extremely important to couples that have parted ways and financial support is being given from the estranged spouse and father/mother of the child.
Most people think that once a child turns 18 the Emancipation is automatically in place but there are still numerous cases where even after turning 18 the child still requires support so are not entirely independent. Emancipation is often brought up when the parent who is making supportive payments to their estranged spouse wishes to stop paying because they feel the child is now independent. If this is not agreed by the resident parent a motion will need to be filed in court to emancipate the child so that support can be terminated. In New Jersey no age causes the cease of support and automatic emancipation it is something that if parents cannot agree upon the courts must decide.
Examples of where children continue to need support after their 18th birthday include disability or illness that stop the child from supporting themselves. Another reason could be that they are still in full-time education.
The courts use facts as well as the current circumstances to decide whether or not the child is of an age and status where they can be deemed independent enough to no longer require parental support. Age is part of the consideration however other factors including needs, interests, the families expectations and the financial abilities of all parties. Unless the child support agreement in place states that child support comes to an end when the child reaches 18 it is still to paid until parents agree on emancipation or it is decided by the courts.
Any arrears even after emancipation are still to be paid. You should, however, ensure if you do not already have an agreement of marital settlement that terms are agreed upon including the age if possible when the support should end. It should include definitions of the emancipation so that it can be proved when the child reaches that stage.
What can be classed as Emancipation?
Emancipation can continue after the age of 18 if they continue education or has additional needs. You can use terms to be agreed on including a child leaving home, finishing education, marrying or joining the armed forces. Should a child being supported by a non-resident spouse pass away terms should be agreed as to how long if at all support is going to continue. Children in boarding schools or camps are not deemed as independent therefore this is not a reason for emancipation to be granted.
Being employed during vacation does not count as emancipation. The child has to be employed full time over the age of 18, therefore, part time and holiday employment cannot be used as reasons for emancipation.
Allison Williams, founder of The Williams Law Group is a leading attorney in the area of DYFS defense and DCPP defense. Ms. Williams is a thought leader who specializes in child advocacy, child abuse and child neglect cases and has brought many changes and updates to the child welfare branch of law.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.