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What is Emancipation and How Does it Affect Custody?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2020 | Divorce |

If you are a parent who makes or receives child support payments, “emancipation” is a word you should know. Learn more by calling our law firm today.

When parents with minor children divorce, it is customary for the court to order the noncustodial parent to make child support payments to the custodial parent. While how much child support a court will order varies on a case-by-case basis, one thing is generally true of all child support orders — they will cease when the child reaches the age of emancipation. If that is a term you are unfamiliar with, here is an overview of emancipation and how it affects child custody in our state.

What is “Emancipation”?

Generally, parents must make child support payments until their child is emancipated. Emancipation means that the child is “beyond the sphere of influence” of their parents. Emancipation is usually achieved when a child:

  • Marries;
  • Dies;
  • Enters into the military; or
  • Reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years of age.

Will My Child Support Obligations End When My Child Turns 18?

While a child does gain certain legal rights when they reach the age of majority, simply turning 18 does not mean that your child support obligations as a parent will end. As found in New Jersey Code Section C.2A: 17-56.67, the termination of the obligation to pay child support will take place without a court order when a child marries, dies, enters the military services, or turns 19 years of age unless:

  • A court order specifies another age for the termination of child support (up to the age of 23);
  • A request to continue child support is submitted to the court by a parent because the child is enrolled in high-school or a post-secondary education program or the child has a physical or mental disability; or
  • The child has received an out-of-home placement by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

Why it is Smart to Have an Attorney on Your Side

While a child support order will automatically expire if the child meets one of the conditions of emancipation listed above, there may be special circumstances that complicate emancipation and your child support order. For example, if your child will still be in high school at the time that they turn 19, you might assume that you do not need to do anything in order to keep receiving child support; however, this is not correct–you will need to file a request for a continuation of support with the court. When you work with an attorney, you will have someone on your side who can answer questions and protect your best interests.

Call Our Experienced NJ Family Law Attorneys in New Jersey Today

To learn more about emancipation and child support and what steps to take if you want to modify a support order, please call our family law attorneys in New Jersey for an appointment You can reach us by phone at 732-482-9285 or visit our contact us page.