A parent who receives child support payments may quickly come to depend on that money for necessary items for the child. Child support can cover food, shelter, clothing and other items basic to the well-being of the child. A parent who supplies the support payments, on the other hand, may find the obligation a financial burden even when he or she understands the importance of the payments. In either of these situations, it can be very important to understand New Jersey’s laws that determine when child support payments should end.
As long as children are minors, parents maintain the obligation to provide for their basic needs. That time ends when a child reaches the age of majority. “Age of majority” is a legal term that describes someone who, by law, is old enough to make certain decisions without the consent of a parent. In most states, the age of majority is 18, but in New Jersey the statutory age of child support termination is 19.
Child support doesn’t always end at adulthood
A child reaching the age of majority does not automatically terminate child support obligations. For example, some court orders or settlements require support to continue as long as a child is in college. Children with special needs may receive support well after reaching the age of majority. On the other hand, a supporting parent who is struggling to meet the financial obligations of child support may request a modification that will reduce or suspend payments for a time.
Once a child reaches the age of majority or other milestones, a supporting parent will likely expect his or her child support obligation to end. This may or may not happen automatically, depending on the terms of the custody order. Ideally, ending support payments will be a decision both parents can agree to once their child is ready to step into adulthood.