Unlike other states where child support ends automatically at a certain age, New Jersey requires you to file a motion for emancipation. This guide will give you an overview of the law on this issue.
Emancipation in New Jersey
Unless your parental rights are terminated (via DYFS/DCPP or an adoption) you will have to pay child support until your child is emancipated. Emancipation can only be accomplished through a court order. Unless both sides agree (which is rarely the case), you will need to file a motion for emancipation. I strongly suggest that you hire a lawyer to do so because if you take a shot without one just to see how it goes, your lawyer may have a very tough time filing another motion anytime soon thereafter. That is because court's discourage litigants from repeatedly filing motions in New Jersey. My advice to clients is not be be pennywise and pound foolish. Do it right the first time. While it is possible to emancipate a child under 18 years old, it is rarely accomplished. Once the child is 18, you will have a much better chance. All you need to show is that the child is 18 years old. The burden will then flip onto the other parent. However, this burden is easily met by showing that the child is in college full-time. If that is the case, the child will not be emancipated.
What if I don't know if my child is in college?
One problem that often arises is how do you know if your child is in college if the other side doesn't talk to you? That's where your lawyer will come in. Follow your lawyer's advice. He or she may recommend filing the motion for emancipation to get the information out of the other side and to set up a court order that requires the other side to provide the relevant school information going forward. This will allow you to track your child's progress to determine when a new emancipation motion should be filed.
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