Emancipation of Minors
Within or outside the context of a divorce, minors can be emancipated. In January 2016, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law with an effective date of February 1, 2017 that affects parental child support obligations. Among other things, it has an impact on existing child support obligations ordered by courts in divorce cases, regardless of whether they were made before or after the new law took effect. Due to the complexity of the legislation and its implementation, counsel from an experienced Bergen County emancipation lawyer may be critical in guiding people who are affected by the new law as part of their divorce. A child turning 18 years of age or graduating from high school is not necessarily a required trigger for emancipation or the termination of parental child support obligations. Family law attorney Howard B. Leopold can assist you with understanding how the law applies to your case. Leopold Law offers advice and representation to residents of communities throughout Northern New Jersey. We are here to develop a plan that can help you address your particular circumstances.Child Emancipation Rules in New Jersey
In New Jersey, a minor can be deemed emancipated when they move beyond the “sphere of influence” and responsibility exercised by parents and achieve independent status. Minors are not automatically emancipated when they turn 18 years of age or graduate from high school. Parents can have continuing support obligations with respect to their children in a variety of situations, including, for example, when their unmarried children become parents themselves.
Emancipation results in parents relinquishing child custody and, with that, also being relieved of the burden of supporting their children. Among the factors that courts consider in assessing whether a child has achieved independent status warranting emancipation are the needs of the child, the interests of the child, the independent resources of the child, the reasonable expectations of the family, and the financial ability of the parties. Courts can also consider other relevant factors, and their analysis varies with the facts and circumstances with which they are presented. An emancipation attorney can help Bergen County residents and others understand how the factors may apply to their distinctive situation.
A child’s support obligations cannot be waived or modified by their parents. Dealing with this in the context of a divorce can be complicated because marital settlement agreements including terms that anticipate the emancipation of a child upon reaching the age of 18 have been held to be unenforceable. A marital settlement agreement can include a list of emancipation events, and it needs to be carefully crafted in order to be enforceable.
Minors also can independently seek to be emancipated under New Jersey law. A successful filing releases parents from obligations to fund medical care and schooling and provide other forms of financial support. In exchange, a minor achieves independence and can, for example, proceed with medical care that would ordinarily require a parent’s approval, without approval being required. Whether a court will grant relief to a minor seeking emancipation depends on the circumstances presented, including an assessment of whether the minor has a non-parental means of support.Hire an Experienced Emancipation Lawyer in Bergen County or Beyond
Whether your family is dealing with child support obligations on an amicable basis or not, it is helpful that you understand New Jersey laws affecting your rights and obligations. Child support attorney Howard B. Leopold can help ensure that your rights are protected, no matter the complexity of your situation. If you have questions about child support obligations, such as those arising from the emancipation of a child, call us at (201) 345-5907 or contact us online for a free consultation. Bergen County emancipation attorney Howard Leopold can guide people throughout Bergen, Essex, Passaic, and Hudson Counties, including in Hackensack, Englewood, Bergenfield, Cliffside Park, Dumont, Edgewater, Elmwood Park, Fair Lawn, Fairview, Fort Lee, Franklin Lakes, Garfield, Glen Rock, Hasbrouck Heights, Hillsdale, Little Ferry, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, New Milford, North Arlington, Oakland, Palisades Park, Paramus, Ramsey, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Ridgewood, River Edge, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Teaneck, Tenafly, Wallington, Westwood, Wyckoff, Jersey City, Paterson, and Newark.