Currently, New Jersey and only three other states do not legally define at what age a child should be when a child support order is lifted. A bill recently approved by the New Jersey Senate would address this issue.
The legislation is aimed at saving parents money and time by clarifying when child support payments should stop. As of now, a child can be declared emancipated from a child support order only if the parents take action in court. If no such motion is filed, then technically the child support order will remain in place until the custodial parent says otherwise or a case worker steps in to give a child status letter to the parents. Such a letter could lead to a court hearing.
However, if passed into law, the proposed bill would essentially make age 19 the magic number. That is, unless there are special circumstances.
For example, if a child begins military service, dies or gets married, then the proposed bill would provide that child support payments could cease.
The legislation also says that parents could also be required to pay child support after the child turns 19 under the following circumstances:
- If a court order specifies another age at which the support order should be terminated
- If the unmarried child has an intellectual or physical disability prior to reaching age 19 and is dependent on the paying parent
- If the child is currently taking classes in a post-secondary education program
- If the custodial and the non-custodial parents consent to have the court extend the support order past age 19 and until a decided-upon date
Of course, whether these rules will be passed into law remains to be seen, as the Assembly still has to vote on the matter.
If New Jersey parents would like to know more about enforcing or modifying child support orders, then our family law website may prove helpful.
Source: PolitickerNJ, “TURNER BILL CLARIFYING CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS CLEARS SENATE,” Chris Donnelly, Jan. 9, 2014