In July, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill that would allow child support payments to automatically terminate once a child turns 19. Despite the proposed alterations in child support obligations, S1046 would allow such support payments to continue by court order in certain circumstances. For example, a parent or child may request that support continue for a child who is attending a secondary or post-secondary school. In addition, child support may continue under the proposed law for a recipient who has a serious disability that predates his or her 19th birthday or when the Division of Child Protection and Permanency determines a child must be placed outside the home. The law would also preserve any arrearages that a parent may accrue prior to a child’s 19th birthday.
According to bill supporters, S1046 aims to reduce the family court case load by reducing the number of situations where a New Jersey court is required to declare a child emancipated and terminate child support payments. In addition, supporters claim the proposed measure provides courts with the flexibility to continue child support payments when merited.
In contrast, the Chairwoman of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Family Law Section stated she believes the measure unfairly shifts the burden of demonstrating child support is warranted onto the recipient. Other opponents are reportedly concerned that certain language included in the proposed bill might allow a child to sue his or her parents for continued support after age 23. Still others believe the measure could open the floodgates to frivolous tuition and other alternative support lawsuits brought by feuding families and disgruntled children.
S1046 was sponsored by Senator Turner and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Scutari and passed the Senate by a margin of 31-2. The New Jersey Assembly is now considering an identical measure, A2721, which passed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee earlier this year. If it is passed, the proposed law will move on to the Governor’s office for signature.
It is well established that both parents have a duty of support related to their children who have not been emancipated under New Jersey law. This applies regardless of the parents’ living situation or whether or not they are divorced. Regardless of age, a child in New Jersey is typically not considered emancipated until he or she has graduated from high school. In addition, a child is frequently not deemed to be emancipated if the child is pursuing a post-secondary education on a full-time basis. Because of this, a parent may be required to file a motion to declare a child who has reached the age of majority emancipated for purposes of child support or forced to defend against such a request. If you need legal assistance with your child support issues, a knowledgeable New Jersey family lawyer can help.
For valuable guidance regarding your child support or other family law questions, do not hesitate to call the knowledgeable New Jersey family lawyers at Goldstein Law Group at 732-967-6777 or contact our seasoned attorneys online.
NJ Senate Approves Changes to Child Support Law, by Michael Booth, New Jersey Law Journal
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Separation and Divorce in New Jersey, August 1, 2015, New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Blog
Effective Co-Parenting Following a New Jersey Divorce, July 31, 2015, New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Blog