With graduation season upon us, a common question received by family law attorneys is relative to the impact of a child’s graduation on child support. Child support payments do not automatically terminate when a child graduates from high school. While many states have automatic emancipation at eighteen, New Jersey is not one of those states. A child is not deemed emancipated in New Jersey until he or she is no longer under the sphere of his or her parents’ influence. As such, if a child attends college or trade school, child support payments will continue. On the other hand, if the child graduates from high school and becomes employed and self-supporting, child support may terminate. Grey areas arise when a child graduates from high school, does not attend college, but continues to reside with one of the parents. In this case, a court will need to make factual determinations as to whether emancipation is warranted.
Also, in many cases, when a child graduates from high school and then moves on to college, the amount of child support may change. For child support orders that are based on the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, it is important to note that the Child Support Guidelines do not contemplate the needs of children past high school. Therefore, it may be necessary to recalculate child support based upon the actual needs and budget of the college student. When determining whether your child is ripe for emancipation, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney, as there are various legal considerations. Posted by Robyn E. Ross, Esq.