The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Emancipation Bill 9 -2
Despite opposition from the New Jersey State Bar Association, yesterday the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee approved S 1046 a bill that provides automatic termination of child support when the recipient turns age 19. There are some exceptions to this proposed law that would extend the obligation to pay child support passed the child’s 19th birthday. However, this bill, if enacted, would dramatically change emancipation law in New Jersey.
We have been following this legislation since it was introduced in the New Jersey Assembly. You may recall reading Automatic Emancipation Bill Introduced in New Jersey earlier this month and then yesterday we wrote about how the New Jersey Senate was Holding a Hearing on a Proposed New Jersey Emancipation Law.
The bill S – 1046 cleared the Senate Judiciary committee by a vote of 9 to 2 with one abstention and one Senator not voting. The Senate Judiciary Committee votes are listed below:
- Nicholas P. Scutari (Chair) – Yes
- Nia H. Gill (Vice Chair) – No
- Christopher Bateman – Abstain
- Gerald Cardinale, – Yes
- Michael J.Doherty, – Yes
- Joseph M. Kyrillos, , Jr. – Not Voting
- Raymond J. Lesniak, – Yes
- Kevin J. O’Toole, – Yes
- Nellie Pou, – Yes
- Sarlo, Paul A. – Yes
- Smith, Bob – No
- Brian P.Stack, – Yes
- Loretta Weinberg, – Yes
A similar version of the Senate bill passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee earlier this month. Assembly Bill A-2721 which was introduced by Reed Gusciora was approved by the Assembly Judiciary committee on March 10, 2012. The Assembly Judiciary Committee votes are listed below:
- John F. McKeon, (Chair) – Yes
- Gordon M. Johnson, (Vice Chair) – Yes
- Michael Patrick Carroll, – Abstain
- Joseph A. Lagana, – Yes
There are several key components to this bill that would significantly change New Jersey’s emancipation law. First, unless otherwise provided in a court order or judgment, the obligation to pay child support would automatically terminate on the date that a child who is less than 19 years of age marries, dies, or enters the military service. Additionally, a child support obligation would also terminate by operation of law and without order by the court when a child reaches 19 years of age unless one of three conditions is met:
- another age for the termination of the obligation to pay child support is specified in a court order;
- the parents of the child consent and the court approves the continuation of support until another predetermined date; or
- 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.
However, the bill gives an opportunity for a parent or child to petition the court for the continuation of child support beyond age 19 in one of the following four circumstances:
- the child is still enrolled in high school or other secondary educational program;
- the child is participating full-time in a post-secondary education program;
- the child has a physical or mental disability that existed prior to the child reaching the age of 19 and requires continued support; or
- other exceptional circumstances as may be approved by the court.
One of the critical changes associated with this legislation is it puts the burden of ensuring continued support for the child on the recipient of the child support. Under current New Jersey law child support will continue regardless of age until the payor makes an application to the court to emancipate the child.
While this legislation seemingly has some momentum it is unknown whether it will actually become law. However, those people who are paying or receiving child support for a high school or college aged child should be mindful of this potential legislation and the possible change to child support law in New Jersey. For example, if you are receiving child support and you have a child who is about to turn 19 you should gathering relevant documents pertaining to high school or college programs that would allow you to make an application for continued child support in the event this legislation is passed.
The law regarding emancipation and child support for older children may be changing. We will continue to keep you in the loop concerning any potential changes in the law. If you have any questions regarding emancipation, child support, or family court matters generally in New Jersey, please contact us online today or call (856) 546-1350 for a confidential consultation with one of our skilled family court lawyers.