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Will the Age of Emancipation be Raised to 19?

The NJ State Senate Judiciary Committee recommends passage of the Senate emancipation bill

In view of the criticism leveled at the Assembly bill, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended passage of its own bill, Senate No. 1046. The bill states that, unless otherwise provided in a court order or judgment, the obligation to pay child support would terminate by operation of law without order by the court on the date that a child who is less than 19 years of age marries, dies, or enters the military service.  A child support obligation would also terminate by operation of law without order by the court when a child reaches 19 years of age unless:

(1)   Another age for the termination of the obligation to pay child support is specified in a court order;

(2)   The parents of the child consent and the court approves the continuation of support until another predetermined date; or

(3)   The court extends the obligation to pay child support based on an application by a parent or the child filed prior to the child attaining the age of 19.

Continuation beyond age 19…

The bill provides that a parent or child may petition the court for the continuation of child support beyond age 19 in the following circumstances:

(1)   The child is still enrolled in high school or other secondary educational program;

(2)   The child is participating full-time in a post-secondary education program;

(3)   The child has a physical or mental disability that existed prior to the child reaching the age of 19 and requires continued support; or

(4)   Other exceptional circumstances as may be approved by the court.

Here’s the full text of the proposed new law:

Sponsored by:

Senator  SHIRLEY K. TURNER

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

SYNOPSIS

Concerns alterations in child support obligations in response to changes to status of supported child.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

As introduced.

An Act concerning child support and supplementing chapter 17 of Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.

     Be It Enactedby the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1.    a. Unless otherwise provided in a court order or judgment, the obligation to pay child support shall terminate by operation of law without order by the court on the date that a child who is less than 19 years of age marries, dies, or enters the military service.  A child support obligation shall also terminate by operation of law without order by the court when a child reaches 19 years of age unless:

(1)   another age for the termination of the obligation to pay child support is specified in a court order;

(2)   the parents of the child consent and the court approves the continuation of support until another predetermined date; or

(3)   the court extends the obligation to pay child support based on an application by a parent or the child filed prior to the child attaining the age of 19.

b.    A parent or child may petition the court for the continuation of child support beyond 19 years of age in the following circumstances:

(1)   the child is still enrolled in high school or other secondary educational program;

(2)   the child is participating full-time in a post-secondary education program;

(3)   the child has a physical or mental disability that existed prior to the child reaching the age of 19 and requires continued support; or

(4)   other exceptional circumstances as may be approved by the court.

c.     If the court grants an order for the continuation of the obligation to pay child support, it shall include in its order a future date upon which the child support obligation will terminate or a date upon which the court will review the circumstances of the parties and children.

d.    For support orders that are being supervised by the Probation Division of the Superior Court, no less than 90 days prior to the termination of child support pursuant to this section the Probation Division and the State IV-D agency shall cooperatively provide both parents with at least one notice of a proposed termination, which shall include instructions for seeking the continuation of child support in appropriate circumstances.

2.    a. Whenever there is an unallocated child support order for two or more children and the obligation to pay support for one of the children is terminated by operation of law pursuant to section 1 of P.L.    , c.       (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the amount of the child support obligation in effect immediately prior to the date of the termination shall remain in effect for the other children until the court subsequently modifies the child support amount.  Either party may file an application with the court to adjust the remaining child support amount to reflect the reduction in the number of dependent children.  For the purposes of this section, “unallocated” means a child support amount for the benefit of multiple children that does not specify the amount of support for each child.

b.    Whenever there is an allocated child support order for two or more children and the obligation to pay support for one of the children is terminated by operation of law pursuant to section 1 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the amount of the child support obligation shall be adjusted to reflect only the amount allotted for the remaining child or children. Either party may file an application with the court to adjust the remaining support amount to reflect the reduction in the number of dependent children.  For the purposes of this section, “allocated” means a child support amount for the benefit of multiple children that specifies the amount of support for each child as ordered by the court.

3.    If a child support obligation is terminated by operation of law pursuant to section 1 of P.L.    , c.       (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), any arrearages that have accrued prior to the date of the termination shall remain due and enforceable. If the person responsible for paying support for a child owes child support arrearages at the time a support obligation is terminated and there are no other children being supported under the same order, the amount to be paid to satisfy the arrearage shall be the sum of the recurring child support obligation in effect immediately prior to the effective date of the termination plus any arrears repayment obligation in effect immediately prior to the effective date of the termination, unless otherwise ordered by the court.

For support orders that are being supervised by the Probation Division of the Superior Court, the Probation Division shall continue to enforce and collect the arrearages until they are paid in full or the court, in accordance with State and federal law and regulations and the Rules of Court, as applicable, terminates the Probation Division’s supervision of the support order.

4.    The provisions of P.L.    , c.       (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall not apply to child support provisions contained in orders or judgments entered by a foreign jurisdiction and registered in New Jersey for modification or enforcement pursuant to the “Uniform Interstate Family Support Act,” P.L.1998, c.2 (C.2A:4-30.65 et seq.), or a law or procedure substantially similar to the “Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act,” originally adopted in New Jersey as P.L.1952, c.197 (C.2A:4-30.1 et seq.) but subsequently repealed, or the “Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act,” originally adopted in New Jersey as P.L.1981, c.243 (C.2A:4-30.24 et seq.) but also subsequently repealed.

5.    Nothing in P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall:

a.     require or relieve a parent from paying support or other costs while a child is enrolled full-time in a post-secondary education program;

b.    prohibit the State IV-D agency or the Probation Division of the Superior Court from seeking to close a Title IV-D case or terminate its supervision of a child support order in accordance with procedures as provided under State or federal law and regulations or the Rules of Court;

c.     prohibit any party from filing an application with the court seeking the termination of an order to pay child support for any cause other than those provided under P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); or

d.    prohibit the parties from consenting to a specific termination date subject to the approval of the court.

6.    The Supreme Court may adopt Rules of Court appropriate or necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act.

7.    The Commissioner of Human Services may adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) to effectuate the purposes of this act.

8.    This act shall take effect 180 days after enactment and shall be applicable to all child support orders issued prior to, on, or after the effective date.”

Commentary

Would you be surprised to learn that the NJ Bar Association opposes this bill?

The bill passed the committee in an 11-1 vote, with only Vice Chair Nia Gill, D-Essex, voting no. She said she opposed the bill since it shifted the burden of continuing child support on the person receiving the funds and not the person responsible for paying the support.

The New Jersey State Bar Association opposes the legislation because of the burden shift and the provision allowing for a child to sue his or her parents.”

[Via NJ Law Journal]

You may be interested in reading:

“What Everybody Ought to Know about a Motion for Emancipation.”

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5 Responses to “Will the Age of Emancipation be Raised to 19?”

  1. Ruby2008 March 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    When I was young and living under my parents roof, we had rules. If you did not like the rules, it was plainly stated “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Divorced parents have been dictated to when it comes to providing continued education for their children. They do not have the ‘right’ to tell their child — either get a job or get out. Until this bill, you were forced back into a court to motion for emancipation. Emancipation of 19 year old adults, unless proven positive they are full time college students, is a step in the right direction. Accountability leads to responsibility. That is what we all want of our children — to be responsible and proud adults.

    • lawrence berezin March 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      Words of wisdom, Ruby…Thanks for sharing them with us.
      (Great meeting you on Saturday at the conference).
      Best,
      Larry

  2. In The Best Interest of All Parties March 26, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    This is a very disturbing concept. This bill allows multiple doors to open for children to sue their parents without any dispute of material facts. That this also allows an emancipated child to dictate what he/she deems as a “right” v. a “privilege.” This will also open the flood gates for emancipated children believing they can sue for automobiles, insurance, computers, housing etc…. I assure you…. that allowing Child Support to continue beyond the age of 18, and all other aspects involved, it will lend control to those undeserving & not responsible of such control. Look at the recent Canning case as an example. Unless parties agree otherwise, if an emancipated child desires a secondary education, allow them to acquire the necessary resources on their own as responsible adults. This Bill is NOT in the Best Interest of All Parties Involved. On the contrary, it is the antithesis of the core values we should be instilling in our children.

    • lawrence berezin March 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. You raise some very real concerns. How do you feel about the presumption of emancipation at age 19?

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  1. What Everybody Ought to Know about a Motion for Emancipation | Larry the N.J. Lawyer's Cogitations - March 26, 2014

    […] The NJ Senate Judiciary Committee recommended passage of Senate No. 1046, in view of the criticism leveled at the Assembly bill. […]

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