Providing support to a child is an important parental responsibility after divorce or the end of a relationship. New Jersey law sets forth the length that this support must continue and when it can end.
In general, child support ends in New Jersey when the child becomes emancipated, or support is automatically terminated. Courts find that a child is emancipated for the purpose of ending support payments when the child is 18 years old, is no longer in school and does not have a disability that makes them financially dependent on their parents.
A court will likely grant a motion to declare a child emancipated when the child is 18, no longer attending high school, does not have a disability and has no plans to go to college or participate in a training program. This motion has a greater likelihood of being granted if the child moved out of their custodial parent’s home and got a job.
The original child support order may also contain the emancipation date. This date can be when a child reaches a specified age or a certain event occurs, such as college graduation.
In December of 2020, New Jersey enacted a law requiring support to continue past the age of 23 if the child has a severe disability and is financially dependent on their parents.
If the child support order was issued in another state or jurisdiction, even if a New Jersey court entered a more recent order, that other state or jurisdiction’s law will determine when child support ends.
Child support may also end automatically under certain conditions even if either parent does not file an application. These are:
- The child dies.
- The child marries.
- The child joins the military.
- The child reaches 19 and there are no termination exceptions.
Any time support is terminated and there are other children receiving support, the court will also set the support for the other children. This will usually be the same amount as the precalculation award. However, the noncustodial parent may file a motion or application for the court to recalculate the support order.
Child support can continue after the child is 19 under these conditions:
- A court orders a different age or date for emancipation or support termination.
- The child is enrolled in high school.
- The child is a full-time student at a college or vocational school.
- A federal or New Jersey agency finds that the child has a mental or physical disability.
- The New Jersey Child Protection and Permanency agency has custody of the child.
Child support may continue until the child reaches 23 years old if the request for continuation that the parent files contains an exception. However, support may continue past 23 if the child has a severe disability and is financially dependent on their parents.
Attorneys can help parents seek a fair and reasonable support order. They may also seek modifications that meet a family’s financial needs.