When a child is emancipated, he or she is no longer a dependent of his or her parents. Additionally, the parent is no longer legally bound to care or provide for the child. If a child has been emancipated, that child will no longer be entitled to receive child support. Therefore, noncustodial parents may seek to have a child emancipated as soon as possible.
In most cases, a child is emancipated when he or she reaches the age of maturity. However, this can occur before that date if certain criteria are met. For instance, if the child gets married or joins the military, emancipation may be granted. It should also be noted that there is no set age at which the emancipation may occur. This means that a child who has reached the age of maturity may still be entitled to child support if the court deems it in his or her best interest.
That precedent was established in New Jersey by a 1978 appellate court decision. In essence, courts will look to see if the child is beyond his or her parent’s sphere of influence. In other words, a child who goes to school full-time, lives with his or her parents and has no or few resources of his or her own is likely still in the sphere of influence regardless of age.
The failure to pay child support is taken seriously by the state of New Jersey. A noncustodial parent who believes that he or she is no longer under an obligation to pay support simply because the child has reached the age of majority should not just stop making payments. Instead, the parent should obtain the assistance of a family law attorney in seeking a court order on the matter.