Your court-ordered child support payment likely represents one of your larger monthly expenditures. While you do not mind supporting your son or daughter, you probably want to know exactly when your official support obligation ends. The answer, though, may not be clear-cut. 

In the Garden State, children of divorced parents have an interest in their parent’s income. Accordingly, parents must financially support their kids until their emancipation. To know when you can stop paying child support, you must understand emancipation under New Jersey law. 

Emancipation factors 

Children should receive financial support from their parents until they become independent. To determine if a child is independent, judges consider a few factors: 

  • The child’s age 
  • The child’s needs 
  • The child’s ability to support himself or herself 
  • Each parent’s financial situation 

When your child turns 18, you can ask a judge to order him or her emancipated. If the judge approves your request, you likely can stop paying child support immediately. To accomplish this, you must be ready to address the above factors. 

Automatic termination 

In most cases, child support obligations automatically terminate. For yours to do so, at least one of the following must be true: 

  • Your child has turned 19 
  • Your child has joined the military 
  • Your child has married 
  • Your child has died 

While child support automatically ends when a child turns 19, there is a key exception you must recognize. Your child’s custodial parent can file a request to continue your support obligation. A judge may approve this request if your child is still in high school or college. 

The same is true if your son or daughter has special needs that require ongoing support. In either case, a judge may extend your support obligation until your child turns 23. In rare cases, child support may continue well past a child’s 23rd birthday. 

Unfortunately, there is no bright-line rule that defines when all child support ends in New Jersey. While your obligation may cease after your son or daughter turns 19, you may have to pay for significantly longer.