Although children become legal adults at the age of 18, they do not necessarily emancipate from child support. In New Jersey, child support termination is usually decided on a case-by-case basis. This often depends on the young adult’s situation and whether or not they are continuing to live with and be supported by the custodial parent after the age of 18. However, potential changes to the laws surrounding child support termination may be important for parents to consider as their children reach adulthood.
The most significant change will be the responsibility of the custodial parent to continue to pursue child support payments. Traditionally, the law placed the burden on non-custodial parents who had to take legal steps to stop child support payment. If those parents did nothing, then they would generally still be required to pay child support beyond the child’s 18th birthday. Changes in the law will require custodial parents to file new paperwork in order to continue to demand child support. If they do not file, the child support obligations automatically terminate when the child turns 19. It may be possible for the custodial parent to continue to request child support until the child in question turns 23.
One important caveat of the law is that it only affects child support ordered through the Probation Department. The real purpose of the law is to reduce court backlog in this department. By automatically terminating child support, non-custodial parents are no longer required to petition the court to stop the payments.
It is important for any New Jersey parent receiving or paying child support to keep these laws in mind. An attorney may be able to help a parent better understand the filing guidelines and rules so that they can continue to receive whatever support they are entitled to.