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Emancipation And Child Support

Emancipation And Child Support

Emancipation status will affect child support payments. If and when a child becomes legally emancipated can affect a parent’s child support obligation. New Jersey is widely considered to be one of the most difficult states in which emancipations are granted. The reason for this is because although turning the age of eighteen is a major factor in the consideration of emancipation, it is not solely determinative. Determining when a child is legally emancipated from his or he parents is important for many social considerations, but it is an extremely integral element in a parent’s child support calculation because the child’s emancipation status can be the life event that ends a parent’s obligation to continue to pay child support. New Jersey statutory law does not expressly define the elements of emancipation and therefore case law and the courts serve as the main guidance to determine a person’s emancipation status. This is also why defining emancipation in New Jersey can become a difficult and case-specific endeavor. The NJ Appellate Division in Filippone v. Lee, 304 N.J. Super. 301 (App. Div. 1997) held that with regard to emancipation, the determination is very fact sensitive and requires a court to consider “whether a child has moved beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent and therefore maintains an independent status of his or her own .” This holding reveals that in many instances a child may not be legally emancipated until well after they turn eighteen years of age. If a child cannot “maintain a independent status of his or her own” because he or she is enrolled in a college or other educational program, the child is not or cannot obtain gainful employment, or there are considerable other factors that preclude a child from achieving independent status, they may not be emancipated at eighteen. The practical effect of this is that a parent’s obligation to pay child support may persist for many years beyond the child’s eighteen birthday. If a child chooses to enroll in a full-time college program, a parent’s child support obligation may extend to that child’s graduation from college, which could be at twenty-two or twenty-three years of age. The events that will most likely lead to a child’s legal emancipation include: marriage of the child, the child’s graduation from college or similar educational pursuit, the child gaining full-time employment after reaching the age of eighteen, the child joining the military, or if the child graduates high school and chooses not to matriculate to college. Recent case law indicates that once a child reaches the age of majority, eighteen years, he or she may voluntarily waive the right to support and seek emancipation from his or her parents even if a court would find otherwise. For more information regarding emancipation, child support, child custody, divorce, civil union dissolution, alimony 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.

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