Daughter Emancipated Over Father’s Objection
- January 30, 2015
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Ort v. Ort, is a case that was originally decided in New Jersey Family Court that involves an 18 year old daughter , Sharon, of divorced parents who filed an application for emancipation, against her father’s objection, because she claimed that she desired to legally be her own person and make independent decisions regarding her life. According to N.J.S.A. 9:17B-1, the New Jersey Legislature recognizes an 18 year old person as an adult. Multiple other state statutes reflect this legal recognition – N.J.S.A 2C:58-3; N.J.S.A. 19:31-5; N.J.S.A. 37:1-6; N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-20; N.J.S.A. 5:8-59; N.J.S.A. 43:10-6. Sharon was 18 years old at the time she filed for emancipation and lived with her mother, the Plaintiff, at the time. She entered the current case as a party in interest seeking a legal Court Order of emancipation from both of her natural parents. Sharon wanted to have the ability to make decisions regarding her life, specifically regarding her college education, without her parents input, even though she had a good relationship with her mother (her relationship with her father was strained). She understood that if she was legally emancipated her parents would be under no obligation to financially contribute to her college education. Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529, 443 A.2d 1031 (1982). Sharon’s mother supported her decision to seek emancipation whereas her father did not. Sharon’s father opposed her emancipation based upon the argument that she was too young and inexperienced to make decisions on her own and she was not outside the sphere of parental influence. The Family Court held a hearing regarding Sharon’s application at which the attorneys for her parents questioned her about the voluntariness and understanding of her request for emancipation. The court found that there was no credible evidence presented by either party or through Sharon’s testimony that she was incompetent or too immature to understand the nature of her request. The Appellate Court held that in Gac v. Gac, 186 N.J. 535, 897 A.2d 1018 (2006), the New Jersey Supreme Court acknowledged that there is a statutory mandate by the New Jersey legislature to declare a person reaching the age of 18 to be an adult. Therefore, the Appellate Court held that it stands to reason that if a person who has attained the age of 18 does not seek the compulsory financial support of a parent, then that parent should not have any legal control over the adult child as long as that particular child is competent and can function independently as an adult. The Appellate Court granted Sharon’s application for emancipation and wished her well. If you have questions regarding the legal standard for emancipation or would like more information regarding how to petition the court for an emancipation it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about emancipation, divorce, alimony, child support, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.