In New Jersey, when a child turns 18, they are not automatically considered legally emancipated, and parents might still be responsible for their support. Let’s delve into what emancipation means, the process, and when it might occur.
What is Emancipation?
Emancipation is a legal act that separates a young person from the control and support of their parents before they reach the age of majority. An emancipated minor is responsible for their own financial support, and can make decisions independently.
Emancipation Age in New Jersey
Unlike many states where the age of majority is 18, in New Jersey, there’s no fixed age when emancipation occurs. The courts consider various factors to determine if a child is emancipated, including:
- The child’s needs.
- The child’s independent resources.
- The child’s ability to make decisions.
- The child’s educational status.
Does Turning 19 Lead to Automatic Emancipation?
Turning 19 does not lead to automatic emancipation in New Jersey. If a child continues in high school, attends college full-time, or has a physical or mental disability that prevents self-support, the child may not be considered emancipated, and child support may continue.
The Emancipation Process
Emancipation is not automatic; it usually requires a parent to go to court. If a parent believes their child should be emancipated, they can file a motion in the court that issued the child support order. The parent must prove the child has moved “beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent and obtains an independent status of his or her own.”
For instance, if the 19-year-old child has graduated from high school, is not attending college full-time, is gainfully employed, and living independently, a court may consider them emancipated.
What Happens After Emancipation?
After emancipation, parents are free from their obligation to support the child. This includes the obligation to pay child support.
Emancipation is a complex issue, and it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney in New Jersey if you’re considering seeking or challenging emancipation. They can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances and the latest state law.
If you or someone you know has a question regarding emancipation of a child, contact the Williams Law Group, at (908) 810-1083, today to learn more about how we can assist you.