Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New Jersey Child Support: Emancipation of a Child Effective February 1, 2017

By: Justin M. Smigelsky, Esq.
Effective February 1, 2017, New Jersey law regarding child support and the emancipation of a child will be significantly transformed. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.67, “the obligation to pay child support shall terminate by operation of law without order by the court on the date that the child marries, dies, or enters the military service…[or] when a child reaches 19 years of age” unless (1) another age for termination of the child support obligation is specified in a court order, (2) a written request from the custodial parent is properly submitted to the court seeking the continuation of the child support obligation prior to the child reaching the age of 19, or (3) the child receiving support is an out-of-home placement through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

Under prior law, a child support obligor seeking to emancipate a child had the burden to either file a motion with the court seeking an order of emancipation or, in the often unlikely alternative, obtain the consent of the custodial parent. The new child support / emancipation statute, however, places the burden on the child support obligee to demonstrate that the continuation of child support is appropriate. Procedurally, the new law requires that – for child support orders that are administered by the Probation Division – Probation provide both parents with at least two timely written notices of the proposed termination of child support, including information and the necessary request form to enable the obligee to request continuation of child support after the child reach the age of 19. Additionally, the custodial parent may file a motion seeking to extend the child support obligation beyond the age of 19 due to exceptional circumstances. If the court determines that sufficient proof has been submitted to establish that the continuation of child support is proper beyond the age of 19, child support shall continue and the court shall issue an order establishing the prospective date for termination of the child support obligation. If the child support obligor disagrees with the determination of the court, he or she may file a motion seeking relief from the obligation at any time.

Most importantly, under the new statute, the obligation to pay child support shall terminate by operation of law when a child reaches 23 years of age regardless of the circumstances; however, the following provisions of the new emancipation statute should be noted: nothing prevents a parent or child from converting a child support obligation to another form of financial maintenance in the event of exceptional circumstances (such as mental or physical disability of the child), or prevents a child over the age of 23 from seeking other forms of financial maintenance or reimbursement from a parent so long as same is not payable or enforceable as “child support” (defined as “the amount required to be paid under a judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary, final or subject to modification, issued by the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part or a court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction of another state, for the support and maintenance of a child, or the support and maintenance of a child and the parent with whom the child is living, which provides monetary support, health care coverage, any arrearage or reimbursement, and which may include other related costs and fees, interest and penalties, income withholding, attorney’s fees and other relief”). It is also important to note that obligations not payable through the Probation Division will not generate the automatic notices referenced above, and that an application to modify the child support obligation will most likely be necessary in the event that the child support obligation is for the benefit of more than one child.

If you have any questions in regards to New Jersey child support, emancipation, divorce, alimony, equitable distribution, or family law, you may wish to consult with an experienced family law attorney. This article is for information purposes only, and is neither legal advice nor the creation of an attorney client relationship.

Justin M. Smigelsky, Esq. / Timothy J. Little, P.C. / 2017 – All Rights Reserved

Timothy J. Little, P.C. is a full-service law firm with offices in Woodbridge and Chesterfield, New Jersey. Timothy J. Little, P.C. offers specialized legal assistance to individuals, families and businesses throughout New Jersey including Middlesex County (Old Bridge, Woodbridge, Sayreville, East Brunswick, Spotswood, Perth Amboy, Dunellen, Colonia, Sewaren, Iselin, Avenel, Fords, Keasbey, Menlo Park, Port Reading, South Amboy, Monroe, Edison, Carteret, Cranbury, Helmetta, South River, Milltown, Highland Park, Jamesburg, Laurence Harbor), Monmouth County (Hazlet, Aberdeen, Matawan, Keyport, Cliffwood Beach, Middletown, Freehold), Union County, Ocean County, Somerset County, and Burlington County. If you have any questions or concerns regarding family law or divorce, please contact the attorneys at Timothy J. Little, P.C.

Family Law Practice Specialties:
Divorce, equitable distribution of assets and liabilities, alimony, domestic violence, child custody, child support, parenting time, emancipation applications, removal applications, Marital Settlement Agreements, post-judgment enforcement and modification applications

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