Emancipation Is Presumption At Age 18
- August 19, 2013
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Emancipation of a minor is triggered by age or certain events. In 2012, a father made a motion to emancipate his 2 daughters, modify support accordingly and terminate his alimony obligation. The daughters turned 18 in 2002 and 2008 respectively. The NJ Appellate Court decided that the fact the daughters remained dependant after the age of 18 did not provide a reasonable basis to deny the father’s motion without any further review. At a minimum, if either or both were to remain unemancipated but over 18 and not attending college while living at home the child support would need to be recalculated. In Ortiz v. Ortiz, the father was the parent of alternate residence and the mother was awarded primary custody of the children in 2002. The father had been living in California and was now on disability, the older daughter had married in 2004 but continued in college until 2008 and the younger daughter was attending college. The father clearly met the burden of showing changed circumstances based on the children’s ages, marriage, his disability since the divorce and the younger child’s entry into college. Clearly the older daughter was no longer within the “sphere of influence” of her parents and marriage is one of the reasons the legislature considers grounds for emancipation. As to the other child, upon reaching 18 there is a presumption of emancipation which shifts the burden to the other parent to show an ongoing need for support thereafter. Full-time attendance of post-secondary education is a basis for continuing support after the age of 18 and in some cases parents will also be required to pay for college. The academic record of the child is a factor the court will consider as well as the parents’ agreement to support the child during post-secondary education contained if one accompanies the judgment of divorce. The mother offered no proof of the older daughter’s need for continued support. She presented proof of the younger daughter’s attendance at college but nothing showing the cost thereof. At a minimum, the father was entitled to further discovery from the plaintiff mother as well as a recalculation of child support in regard to the older child based on the factors in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a), pertaining to child support, or the child support guidelines if the younger daughter continues to reside at home while attending college. If you are seeking or opposing emancipation, modification of child support or custody you should contact an experienced family law attorney immediately to protect your rights. For more information on emancipation, child support, custody, alimony, dissolution, divorce or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.