Emancipation of minors
Emancipation is the age at which a child is considered an adult and is no longer in need of financial support. As such, once a child is declared emancipated, a non-custodial parent no longer has a child support obligation for that child. In New Jersey, the presumptive age of emancipation, also known as the age of majority, is 18 years old. But this is a rebuttable presumption and often times a child will not be emancipated at 18 or even upon graduation from high school.
Pursuant to relevant case law, emancipation in New Jersey is the age at which a child is considered to be no longer under the “sphere of influence” of his/her parents. As such, even if a child has reached the age of 18, if he/she is still in need of support because he/she is still under the “sphere of influence” of his/her parents, then the child is not emancipated. This usually means that the child is in college or is pursuing a higher level of education in some form or another.
If in college, child support will be awarded if the child commutes to school and/or resides at home. To be considered unemancipated, the child must attend school on a full-time basis. If the child is only in school part-time, the child is considered to be able to contribute to his/her own support and child support will not be awarded. A child may be declared unemancipated even if the child is in graduate school and is in his/her mid-twenties. Emancipation is not a hard and fast rule. It is based on a balancing of various factors regarding whether or not the child has moved beyond the “sphere of influence”.
At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., our family law attorneys can assist you in determining whether or not your child should be emancipated. We can also help determine what your remaining child support obligation might be if you have one child who is emancipated but another who remains unemancipated. Since child support is based on a complex calculation, it is important to seek the assistance of an attorney to see if your child support should be recalculated based on the emancipation of a child. We, at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., can help.