Should Child Support in New Jersey End Automatically at 19?
Proposed legislation in New Jersey would end child support automatically upon a child turning 19 years of age.
Currently, in New Jersey a child is entitled to continue to receive child support until the supporting parent petitions the court to emancipate the child. A child is presumed emancipated at 18. However, child support in New Jersey may continue beyond 18 if the child has not moved “beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility” exercised by a parent. Filippone v. Lee, 304 N.J. Super. 301, 308 (App. Div. 1997) (quoting Bishop v. Bishop, 287 N.J. Super. 592 (Ch. Div. 1995)). A child who enters the armed forces, marries or completes their education no longer requires the support of a parent because they have moved beyond the sphere of influence of a parent and child support ceases. However, if a child older than 18 is enrolled in high school, college full-time or is disabled child support continues. The issue of emancipation is fact sensitive and determined by the trial court.
The New Jersey legislature is now considering a bill that would stop child support automatically at 19 unless the parent receiving support petitions the court to continue the support. This is a significant change from the current law. Currently, the burden is place on the parent paying the support to petition the court to modify or cease the child support. A child will continue to receive support until the court enters an order emancipating the child.
The proposed legislation also creates a private right for the child to petition the court for support from both parents. Pursuant to the proposed legislation, in order to continue child support beyond 19 years old the child will have to be enrolled in high school or in a college/post secondary program full-time or have a physical or mental disability that existed which occurred prior to turning 19. The legislation would not apply to support established in another state or jurisdiction.
To review the legislation, click here.