On January 19, 2016, Governor Christie officially signed into law an update to the law regarding child support and its termination.
The law sets 19 as the age at which child support will end by operation of law, absent entry of a superceding order, unless a different date/age is specified in a Court Order, the parties’ consent to continuation of support beyond age 19, the court extends the obligation or the child is within the control of DCP&P. A parent can seek continuation of support beyond age 19 if the child is still enrolled in high school, is a full-time student in a post-secondary education program (i.e., college), has a mental or physical disability, or for other exceptional circumstances. If the obligation is extending beyond age 19, it extends until the child reaches the age of 23.
It is important to note that this law does not go into effect until February 2017, and it is retroactive in its operation.
There has been some confusion as to the import of this change, but it is important to note that it does not create 19 as the new age of emancipation. Rather, it sets 19 as an automatic age of termination absent any court order to the contrary.
The import of the new law revolves around the language to be included in support agreements. Therefore, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced family law attorney before entering into a Consent Order or Agreement concerning child support and the effective date of emancipation.