So, you don’t want to pay child support anymore. What do you need to know?
To start, you should ask yourself the following questions:
1-How old is your child?
2-Does your child attend high school?
3- Does your child work? Full-time or Part-time?
4- Does your college attend college?
5- Does he or she reside with your ex-spouse?
The answers to these questions will determine whether you should file a motion for emancipation.
Let’s say your child is nineteen (19) years old, lives alone, and works full-time. Are you obligated to pay for your child’s support? Given this fact pattern, the answer is ‘no’ because your child is completely independent of you and your ex-spouse. But, if your child has a part-time job and takes college classes, then it becomes a stickier issue.
Ordinarily, the obligation of the parent to support ends when the child reaches full age, although it might continue indefinitely if the child were crippled or unable to support himself. Cohen v. Cohen, 6 N.J. Super. 26 (App. Div. 1949).The New Jersey Appellate Division held there is a presumption of emancipation when a child reaches the age of majority. N.J.S.A. 9:17B-3; Weitzman v. Weitzman, 228 N.J. Super. 346 at 356 (App. Div. 1988). The Court further concluded that parents are not ordinarily under a duty to support children after age of majority. Id. at 355.
If your child is an able-bodied person, then the issue of whether your child support obligation continues after the age of eighteen (18) depends upon whether your child attends college
The reported decisions in this jurisdiction hold that the emancipation of a child occurs when the fundamental dependant relationship between parent and child is terminated. When a child moves beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent and obtains an independent status on his or her own, generally he or she will be deemed emancipated. Bishop v. Bishop, 287 N.J. Super. at 598.
In a family where a college education would seem normal, and where the child shows scholastic aptitude and one or other of the parents is well able financially to pay the expense of such an education, we have no doubt the court could order the payment.
Cohen, 6 N.J.Super at 30.
New Jersey Courts often order the non-custodial parent to pay for their child’s college education in the form of child support.
If you are in the process of a divorce and there exists a draft property settlement agreement, it will likely provide for instances in which emanicipation occurs, which will likely include the following: marriage; military status; independent living; and dropping out of school.
Consult with an attorney to address your specific concerns.