In New Jersey a child is not automatically emancipated upon reaching a certain age or upon the occurrence of a specific event. While not automatic, children are often emancipated upon reaching the age of 18, enlisting in the armed forces, working full time and no longer pursuing education or upon their marriage. However, a brief hiatus from education pursuits does not automatically qualify a child for emancipation.
Since emancipation is not automatic, a determination must be made either by consent of the child’s parents or by a Court order. If parents cannot agree as to when their child is emancipated, the parent responsible for paying child support will need to make an application to the Court requesting a judge to make a determination whether the child may be emancipated. Upon a judicial decision to emancipate a child being made, the support paying parent would be relieved of that obligation.
The determination as to whether or not a child is emancipated is always fact sensitive and is a question of when and for what reason the fundamental relationship between a parent and child has ended.
It is important for the support paying parent to not unilaterally cease the payment of child support until either both parents agree to the emancipation or a Court issues an order emancipating the child. If one parent chooses to stop paying child support prior to a determination of emancipation, a Court may require that parent to still pay until the determined emancipation date.