CHANGES IN FAMILY LAW: TERMINATION OF CHILD SUPPORT UNDER NEW EMANCIPATION STATUTE

In January 2016, New Jersey enacted a new emancipation statute that is more payor friendly and which establishes that any existing or future child support obligation will terminate automatically when a child reaches the age of 19 absent an order stating otherwise, consent of the parties or the Court’s extension of the age for emancipation beyond 19 based upon an application filed by the payee parent. This new law is set to take effect on February 1, 2017 and will apply to all child support orders issues before or after its effective date.

One of the other key components to this new law is to create a “cap for termination,” that if another age for the termination of child support is specified in a Court Order, it is not to extend beyond the date that the child reaches the age of 23.  Although most Marital Settlement Agreements already incorporate the age of 23 as the cap for when child support terminates, the statute now codifies that age cap.  A child beyond the age of 23 can still seek other forms of financial support, reimbursement or contribution by their parent, but the difference is that it will not be deemed payable or enforceable as child support.  Further, parties can agree in a settlement agreement to additional financial responsibility for children beyond the age of 23, but it cannot be considered “child support.”

If there is an existing unallocated child support award that covers two or more children, the new law indicates that the termination of a child support obligation for one child does not terminate the existing child support obligation. If allocated, the child support would be adjusted by the support for the child deemed emancipated.

The first notices of child support termination will be mailed out on February 1, 2017 with child support ending on August 1, 2017, as the new law is phased in. If you are already divorced, it is important to read the child support provisions of your Court Order or Marital Settlement Agreement and consult with a family law attorney to understand how this change in the law may affect you.  If you are considering divorce or in the process of getting divorced, it is important to understand how this law affects the negotiation of support and the resolution of your case.

For more information regarding the new emancipation statute, or guidance on other family law issues, contact Georgia M. Fraser, Esq. of Fraser Family Law Office LLC at 609-223-2099.