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Emancipation Requires Oral Argument

Emancipation Requires Oral Argument

Thomas Mynes sought the emancipation of his 22-year old daughter and the concomitant termination of child support to Mary Mynes, his former spouse. The application for emancipation was terminated without a hearing and Plaintiff appealed. The parties divorce included a property settlement agreement (PSA) which addressed the termination of child support. In 2012, the Plaintiff sought emancipation of the parties two children and the Defendant did not oppose the motion but the Family Part judge determined that only the parties’ son need be emancipated and no oral argument was needed. In 2014, the Plaintiff again filed for emancipation of the parties’ daughter claiming that she would have been done with school had she attended full-time and the Defendant filed papers in opposition claiming the parties’ daughter was still in school and seeking counsel fees. The court again did not hear oral argument, as required by N.J.C.R. 5:5-4 which requires oral argument “when significant substantive issues are raised and argument is requested.” Palombi v. Palombi, 414 N.J. Super. 274 (App. Div. 2010). The judge denied the motion and denied both parties’ requests for counsel fees. The judge determined that R.M. remained in school due to a time off for a medical hiatus which is not an emancipation event. The judge held that emancipation of the parties’ daughter should occur in 2016. On appeal in Mynes v. Mynes, the Plaintiff claimed that a hearing was required. The N.J. Appellate Division looked to Patetta v. Patetta, 358 N.J. Super. 90 (App. Div. 2003), Keegan v. Keegan, 326 N.J. Super. 289 (App. Div. 1999) and Llewelyn v. Shewchuk, 440 N.J. Super. 207 (App. Div. 2015) in review of standards and presumptions relating to emancipation. The Family Part judge failed to address whether R.M. had moved beyond the sphere of parental influence. The judge’s denial of oral argument based on the conclusion that no evidence outside the motion papers existed was misplaced as there was a question regarding the extent and reason for any interruption of the daughter’s education. In light of the discrepancies in the parties’ positions, the N.J. Appellate Division reversed and remanded the matter for a plenary hearing regarding the contested issues. If you are seeking or fighting the emancipation of a child, you should consult an experienced family law attorney immediately in order to protect your rights and ensure your request is viable. For more information on child support, custody, parenting time/visitation, divorce, alimony, palimony, modification of a family court order or other family or juvenile law matters in New Jersey visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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