If you are a parent who pays or receives child support in New Jersey, you may wonder how long this obligation will last. Child support is a legal duty that parents must provide for their children’s basic needs. However, child support does not last forever. So, the question becomes, how long does child support last?
The age of majority in New Jersey
New Jersey law establishes 19 as the age of majority for child support purposes. This means that child support ends when the child turns 19 years old, unless the court orders otherwise. But, this is not an absolute rule.
For example, child support may continue beyond 19 if the child is still enrolled in high school or a post-secondary education program beyond their 19th birthday. If the child has a physical or mental disability that prevents them from becoming self-supporting, then child support can last beyond age 19. If the parents agree to extend child support beyond 19, then child support can go beyond age 19. Finally, the family law court can find that terminating child support would be inappropriate based on the child’s circumstances.
Does that mean child support can be indefinite?
Normally, no. In any of these cases, child support may continue until the child turns 23 years old, which is the maximum age for child support in New Jersey. However, the court may also order that child support ends before 23, if the child becomes emancipated.
Emancipation means that the child is no longer dependent on their parents and can support themselves financially. Emancipation occurs when the child gets married, joins the military, establishes their own household or starts working full-time.
When can it go beyond 23?
Child support may extend beyond the age of 23, given specific circumstances. According to the law, to extend support past 23, courts can determine that the child has a severe physical or mental incapacity, resulting in financial dependence on a parent, which requires support to last, potentially, for the pendency of that child’s life.