When Does a Child Become an Adult?
Emancipation occurs when a child is no longer in the care and control of his or her parents. We tend to think a child is emancipated at age 18. In some states, this is true. But in New Jersey, emancipation has more to do with finances and parental influence than age. Emancipation is legally defined as the point when a child is no longer under the sphere of influence of his or her parents. Practically speaking, this means the child no longer lives with and is dependent on the parents.
In New Jersey, a child is not automatically emancipated at age 18. It is up to the court to legally declare a child emancipated. A child can become emancipated when they turn 18 if they become financially independent from their parents. This can even happen before age 18 in some cases. A few examples of situations when the court may declare a child emancipated at or before age 18 is if the child became pregnant, has a baby, marries, or joins the military. Conversely, emancipation may be delayed if the child continues to be financially dependent on the parents because of post-secondary studies, a medical condition, or similarly relevant issues.
What Does Emancipation Do?
Courts determine emancipation on a case by case basis. Emancipation is a commonly explored issue in child support cases because once a child emancipates, his or her parents are no longer obligated to pay child support. If a child turns 19—the age when child support automatically terminates—and is not yet financially independent, the non-custodial parent might still have to pay child support. This most commonly occurs when a child goes to a college, university, or vocational school full-time. A judge may order a continuation of child support while a child is in school and financially dependent up until that child turns 23.
If you have questions about emancipation, speak with an experienced New Jersey child custody attorney. Again, the court determines emancipation on a case by case basis after considering numerous factors. An attorney can explain the legal definition of emancipation in New Jersey and the factors the court may take into account in your particular case when deciding whether or not your child is emancipated.
Do you have questions about custody and child support in New Jersey? Williams Law Group, LLC can provide you with tenacious legal counsel to ensure your best interests are protected throughout your case. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.