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Child Emancipation FAQs

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

Emancipation means that a person is no longer in need of, or required to be, supported by their parents. The person that is emancipated is not under the influence of their parents and is no longer legally bound to their parents.  For parents, emancipation means that they are not legally responsible for their child’s welfare or support.

At Jacobs Berger, our family law attorneys are here to help you navigate the intricacies of the courts, and to educate and advise you every step of the if you are choosing to emancipate your child or if you are opposing emancipation. We believe in building family life plans out of family law problems and serve clients across Morris County and Northern and Central New Jersey in towns such as Morristown, Randolph, Mendham, Parsippany, Whippany, and Florham Park.

Does child emancipation in New Jersey happen automatically and if so how?

A person can be deemed emancipated by virtue of an event. For example, if your son or daughter has left the home and joined the military, he or she will be deemed to have been emancipated.  In the example of joining the military, it is easy to conceive how this serves as a basis for emancipation.   The “child” is out of the parental home, living on their own, and responsible for their own support.  Thus, the child no longer needs the assistance of his/her parents.

Under NJSA 2A:17-56.67, additional statutory requirements or events establishing emancipation are:

  1. a child marries;
  2. The child dies;
  3. The child enters the military service;
  4. The child turns 19.

Emancipation absolves the parent or parents from paying child support.  Most people seeking emancipation are those paying child support.  However, not all children who fall under one of the above reasons for emancipation will be deemed emancipated.

Can I oppose emancipation?

The law permits a parent or guardian to oppose emancipation.  In many cases, a child is still dependent on his or her parents and is not able to live on his or her own. For example, the majority of children graduate high school and begin college at 18.  While the child may reside in college dorms or on-campus housing while attending college, the parent of the primary residence must continue to provide a home for the child, as well as food and support.  In such situations, the court will permit the support to continue until the age of 23.

The law does not limit extending child support to only those attending college. For instance, attending a trade school or similar program is also acceptable, as the child is likely working towards self-sufficiency and needs assistance throughout that journey. Despite permitting some leniency in child support, New Jersey courts will not permit child support to continue if the child is not engaged in some form of education or enrichment with the intended goal of professional advancement and being able to financially support themselves.

Are there other circumstances in which a child will not be emancipated?

There are some less common examples of events that preclude emancipation.  If the child is living outside of the home as a result of placement by or through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families (DCP&P), the court will not emancipate the child. Similarly, if  “the child has a physical or mental disability, as determined by a federal or State government agency, that existed prior to the child reaching the age of 19 and requires” continued child support, he or she will not be emancipated.

Is emancipation automatic?

Under the most recent law, the court will send notice to the parents of emancipation when the child nears 19. If any person opposes emancipation, they must do so in writing and in accordance with the law.  A person seeking emancipation on any other basis must file a motion with the court setting forth the reasons for which they are requesting to be emancipated.

Consult our Morris County Child Custody and Emancipation Attorneys Today

If considering emancipation, it is important to contact a family law attorney to help you prove what is or is not in the child’s best interest.

At Jacobs Berger, our family law attorneys are ready to help on a wide variety of family law matters including emancipation as well as separation, divorce,  child custody, child support, and adoption. Our attorneys can examine the circumstances and advise on filing a motion for emancipation, opposing a motion for emancipation, or filing a motion to continue support.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.