Whether you're the payer or the recipient, one of the primary concerns for any divorced parent is how long their children are entitled to receive financial support. This may come across as a selfish question, but most parents are more than glad to help their children in any way they can. The issue with child support is that it's an automatic, long-term deduction from one's paycheck or some other form of income. Depending on that parent's wages and their other financial responsibilities, having to pay the court ordered amount of support may be a heavy burden to bear. For the receiving parent who most likely has primary custody of the children, it may be hard to make ends meet, especially if they're paying for a house, car and other properties that are needed to give their children a good quality of life.
The general assumption is that child support ends when the child turns 18, but a court order cannot be automatically canceled. The paying parent must file a motion with the court asking for a modification or termination of child support based on the grounds that the child is 18. You may be wondering why a parent would ask for a "modification" as opposed to a "termination", since the goal is to end child support. The truth is, there's no fixed at age at which child support ends in New Jersey. Even if your child turns 18, there are situations in which a child is not considered financially independent. For example, if your child wants to attend college, you will most likely be ordered to help out with college-related expenses. Another example is in the case of a disabled child, who may need life-long support due to his medical needs and limited income earning potential.
On the flip side, there are reasons to end child support even before the age of 18. According to the law, child support ends when a child is emancipated, which can be triggered by numerous circumstances. These circumstances include, but are not limited to: marriage, moving out of the family home, getting a full-time job and joining the armed forces. The court will, however, examine many other factors before deciding to lower or terminate a child support order. These factors depend on each family's unique situation, but they mainly have to do with the child's needs and independent resources, and whether the child's current status moves him beyond the influence, therefore the responsibility, of the parents.
To find out more about New Jersey's child support laws, please schedule a free consultation with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Whether you are in the middle of divorce, or have been paying child support for a number of years, it's best to be prepared for the future. Our attorneys will advise you of your rights and responsibilities, and assist you with legal actions that are in the best interest of you and your children.