While a parent’s child support obligation does not come to an end automatically when the child becomes an adult, a parent can apply for termination of child support responsibilities once the child has attained a predetermined age. The benchmark varies from state to state; in New Jersey, a parent can expect to pay child support at least until the child is 19 years old.
However, because every situation is different and each family has its own unique situation, there are exceptions to this rule. According to FindLaw, if the child in question has a disability, and the custodial parent requires support in order to adequately care for the child, the court may order the child support obligation to extend past the age of majority.
The National Conference of State Legislatures explains that the courts usually use economic terms to define a disability. In other words, if a physical or mental disability prevents the child from earning his or her own living from a job, parents have a duty to support him or her even after the child has attained adulthood. New Jersey state law says that a state or federal government agency must make the determination that the child has a mental or physical disability.
The law of New Jersey is also very clear that the disability has to have existed prior to attainment of the age of 19. In other words, the courts cannot issue a new child support order for an adult child who becomes disabled. Rather, it must be a continuation of a child support order that was already in effect before the child reached the established age.