Child support is paid by the non-custodial parent until a child is emancipated. Emancipation of minors occurs when they are outside of the “sphere of influence” of the parents, yet there is no set age or emancipation law that dictates when a child becomes emancipated. Upon reaching the age of 18, or graduation from high school, whatever is later, there is a presumption in favor of legal emancipation. That presumption, however, can be rebutted by a showing that the child is enrolled as a full-time college student, has a disability, or is otherwise not able to care for themselves.
Emancipation traditionally occurs upon one of the following events: Graduation from college, entry into the armed forces, marriage, permanent residence away from the parent’s residence, or obtaining full time employment after the age of 18. A child’s residence at a boarding school, camp, or college is not deemed as a residence away from the parents and a child engaging in full time employment during the summer while attending college on a full time basis is not deemed to be full time employment.
Parties are free to define their own emancipation events in their Marital Settlement Agreements, which the Court will enforce. It is up to a party seeking to emancipate the child to file an appropriate application with the Court.