When minors become emancipated, they are legally free from the control of parents of guardians. Conversely, parents are no longer responsible for emancipated children legally and financially. Because emancipated children of divorce no longer receive child support, the parent making payments can be more likely to push for emancipation, effectively ending their financial obligation to the child. In New Jersey, emancipation does not automatically happen when the child turns 18, but depends on a variety of circumstances, often leaving parents at odds about when child support should end.
Parents and legal guardians are responsible for providing children with shelter, food, and clothing until they reach the age of majority. In most states, that age is 18 or 19. Parents also have the right to decide where children will live and what medical care they receive. When a child becomes emancipated, they can make their own decisions about employment, healthcare, and where they want to live. Emancipated minors essentially function as adults, with all the benefits and obligations that entails.
Emancipation in New Jersey
In New Jersey, children can become emancipated in different situations, including when they:
- Join the military
- Get married
- Are declared by a court order
- Reach the “appropriate age”
Because there is no set “appropriate age” for emancipation in New Jersey, the court makes the decision based on whether the child has moved beyond the sphere of influence of his or her parents. The sphere of influence is a complex concept that considers the unique circumstances of each child and their dependence on each parent. For example, a child over the age of 18 may still be living at home while attending college. They are not fully removed from their parent’s sphere of influence and may not be emancipated, requiring the continuation of child support from the supporting parent.
When Parents Disagree About Emancipation
Because the guidelines for emancipation vary from case to case in New Jersey, parents who are unable to come to an agreement should consult a Marlton child support lawyer for legal guidance. Parents often disagree on how much child support children should receive and how long it should last. A court will make the final decision to declare a child emancipated after considering all the family dynamics and the child’s best interests.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at (856) 512-1461 or contact us online today. With two locations in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey, we serve clients in Burlington County, Camden County, Atlantic County, Salem County, and throughout the state.