How is child support affected by child emancipation? 

New Jersey law has recently changed and now requires that a child support obligation automatically ends when the child reaches the age of 18. Before this, a parent who wanted to stop making support payments had to make a motion or application to the court, asking the judge to emancipate (terminate) the child and discontinue the support payments. 

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A young adult is considered to be emancipated when they move out of the home, complete undergraduate studies, have a full-time job and no longer require parental support, or join the military and are self-supporting. However, there are many other situations that can also cause a child to be considered emancipated, and the age that they must reach before being deemed to be emancipated depends on the situation. 

If a child is legally married, the parents will continue to pay child support until the child turns 21, unless the marriage was obtained illegally. Even if a child marries before the legal age, they can still be emancipated if their parents consented. 

There are other situations that can also cause a child support obligation to continue beyond emancipation, such as if the child has special needs or requires financial assistance. In such cases, the court will determine the amount of support based on the income of both parents and how that supports the child’s needs. 

The court will then multiply the combined income by 25 percent, dividing that amount based on how much time each parent has physical custody of their children. This formula ensures that both parents have an equal share of the child’s finances. 

In addition to the monthly payments, child support can include expenses for the care of the child. This could include housing, food, and clothing. Some states may also require that the non-custodial parent carry medical and dental insurance for their child. 

If a child has disabilities that impact their ability to work, the court may order the non-custodial parent to pay for their care. In such a case, the payment may be higher than normal, since it will cover medical and dental costs that the child has not had the means to obtain on their own. 

Another scenario that can cause a child support obligation to continue is when a parent loses their job or experience involuntary unemployment. In such a situation, the court will consider the child’s special needs and the parents’ abilities to make a reasonable effort to find other employment. 

Alternatively, a child support obligation can continue indefinitely when a parent has filed for bankruptcy or lost their job due to an illness or injury. This type of scenario would be rare, but if it were to occur, the child’s needs must be taken into consideration and an appropriate amount of support is calculated. 

While there is no definitive answer to how child support is affected by child emancipation, it is important for parents to understand their rights and obligations regarding child support. The best way to prepare for this is to have open discussions with your spouse about your finances during a divorce and how that may impact the kids.