For many New Jersey families, college is seen as the gateway to adulthood. A teenager graduates high school and begins to attend college, whether locally or hundreds of miles away, and he or she ideally gains the maturity and knowledge necessary to function as an independent adult over the next four years.
The notion of a child transitioning to adulthood brings up questions of emancipation. Emancipation is the event of becoming an adult and thus no longer needing financial support from one’s parents. In New Jersey, an adolescent is not automatically emancipated at age 18. Many young men and women continue to remain financially dependent on their parents into their mid- to late twenties, usually because of their enrollment in college. As a parent, you might be wondering if you are still required to pay child support for your adult son or daughter if he or she takes a semester off from school.
If your child takes a break from college, you need to determine whether he or she still needs your financial support. If you feel he or she is ready to be cut loose, you need to file a Motion of Emancipation with the court.
However, it is up to the court to decide whether terminating your child support order is in your child’s best interest. If he or she is truly only taking a short break from college, the court might not terminate your order. In a case where it appears that your child’s hiatus will turn into a long-term or even permanent leave from college, the court will likely emancipate your child. In some cases, child support may be reinstated if a previously emancipated young adult reenters college and thus stops being financially independent.
Talk to your child and your former spouse about determining an appropriate time to end your child support order. It might be a specific birthday, such as his or her 22nd birthday, or a specified milestone, such as graduating from college. As with other transitions in life, learning to support oneself can be difficult. Work with your child to make this transition easier by ending or limiting your financial support when you are both ready.
At The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC., we can answer your questions about emancipation, child support, and other family law issues. Contact our firm today to begin working with us. We proudly serve clients in Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Burlington, and Ocean counties.