What are the laws regarding child support for a child over 18 years of age?

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What are the laws regarding child support for a child over 18 years of age?

I have 2 children, ages 19 and 21, who are both full-time college students. Judge recently terminated the child support obligation of their father because he claims to not have a job/income. Since our children over the age of 18 but are full-time students, is the other parent still legally required to pay support? I was also told I must file a motion to request educational expenses and I just would like to know what the law regarding that is, like if the other parent could be held legally responsible or not, despite income.

Asked on November 24, 2010 under Family Law, New Jersey

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A child support order will terminate once the child becomes emancipated. Emancipation basically means that the child can take care of themselves. However, many people incorrectly believe that once the child turns 18 then their child support ends. This is not the case in NJ, which has some of the strictest child support laws in the country. The courts have viewed education as a necessity. The recent trend has been to require parents to pay for the college costs for their children. Therefore, if the child is attending college, then it is unlikely that a court will grant an emancipation motion.  

However, extending child support is not automatic.  In making such a determination the court considers the facts of each case. It will analyze the following factors to assess if a parent should pay for a child's college costs:

  1. the ability of the parent to pay that cost;  
  2. the amount of contribution sought by the child for the cost of the higher education;
  3. the effect of the background, values, and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of the child for higher education; 
  4. the relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the child;
  5. the financial resources of both parties;
  6. the commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education;
  7. the financial resources of the child, including assets held individually or in custodianship or trust;
  8. the ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation; 
  9. the availability of financial aid in the form of college grants;
  10. the child's relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance;
  11. the relationship of education requested to any prior training and to the overall long range goals of the child.

Again, the decision on whether or not a parent should pay for the college costs rests in the court's hand. And while there is a strong trend towards requiring parents to pay for college, the key issue is how much money the parent in question has.


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