Will My Child Support Obligation End on High School Graduation Day?

The end of the school year is nearing and parents, students and schools across the country are preparing for graduations in May and June. If you are a parent who has been paying child support for multiple years, you may think you’re seeing a light at the end of a long tunnel. Your kid is 18, done with high school and now you can stop making child support payments, right? Not so fast.

Unless you had it written into your separation agreement during the divorce process, there isn’t an automatic trigger that ends your child support payments when they turn 18. In New Jersey, you have to support your children until they are at least 18, but your support only ends when they become emancipated.

A child is emancipated when they have been completely self-reliant and are legally released from the support and control of their parent(s). So before you go running to the courthouse to try and end or reduce your child support payments, ask yourself if your kid is ready to be self-reliant. In today’s society, many kids don’t move out until they are well into their 20s.

However, if you and your family law attorney decide to go to court and plead your case to get your child support payments reduced or the agreement canceled, consider a few things first:

  • Are they in college? It costs a ton of money to go to colleges and universities, but it has also become an expectation for many high school students. If your son or daughter is heading off to college, they will likely need your support until after college graduation.
  • Do they have a full-time job? They can’t support themselves if they don’t have any money and they won’t be able to make much money without having regular and full-time employment.
  • Are you capable of continuing support: If circumstances have dictated that you can’t afford to help with college tuition, this is something the courts may consider.

Age is a factor in determining when child support ends, but not the only factor. Divorcing couples would be wise to agree on a child support termination date during the divorce process. This will save you the inconvenience of having to get a court order to end your support obligation years later.

Talk to the knowledgeable NJ family law attorneys at Posternock Apell, PC. We will listen to your story and advise about the best course of action for your family. Contact us today for any divorce, child support or alimony issues.