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Family Law Facts with Gabriella B. Ferri Esq.

Does emancipation automatically occur at the age of 18 in the State of New Jersey?

Unlike many other states, there is no automatic emancipation of a child at the age of 18. In order to emancipate a child in the State of New Jersey, either a motion must be filed with the court, or a consent order must be entered into by both parents. Because of the fact-sensitive nature of an application for emancipation, experienced legal representation can be invaluable.

When will a court find that a child is emancipated? 

The standard the court applies to determine whether or not a child is emancipated is “when a child moves beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent and obtains an independent status on his or her own, generally he or she will be deemed emancipated.” Bishop v. Bishop, 287 N.J. Super. 593, 598, (CH. DV. 1995). The Court will apply this standard to the facts presented in each individual case.

What is the likelihood that my son or daughter will be emancipated if he or she is 18?

When an application is made to emancipate a child, there is a presumption that a child is emancipated at the age of 18, however this presumption is rebuttable if the child has not moved “beyond the sphere of influence” of his or her parents. A child’s enrollment in a full time educational program has been held to require continued support, however there are other factors that the court will consider as well. A more in-depth discussion is necessary to address whether a part time education, part time employment, taking a semester off, and gap years will result to the emancipation of a child.

How do I know whether the Court will declare my son or daughter emancipated?

Many motions to emancipate are not clear-cut, but require the court to apply the case law to unique facts and view the totality of the circumstances. Even if a child is declared emancipated, the court has the ability to subsequently un-emancipate a child. This area of the law can be confounding , so competent advice and representation should be considered.

Contact either me, Gabriella Ferri, or Daniel K. Snyder to discuss how the law will be applied to the facts in your case.


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