Child Support During Graduate School
By Snyder & Sarno on May 21, 2015
In New Jersey, a child is not automatically emancipated at the age of 18. Rather, to end a child support obligation, a parent must file a motion with the court to have the child emancipated. Many times, however, a child who is attending undergraduate school is not deemed emancipated and support continues until that child has graduated. This may or may not be the case when a child continues on to a post-graduate degree program.
In the recent unpublished Appellate Court Division case of Don v. Thayer, Plaintiff, according to the parties’ Property Settlement Agreement, was required to pay $1,083.33 in child support per child for the parties’ three children until they completed undergraduate schooling. During a child’s undergraduate schooling, however, the child support payment would be reduced by 75% except during summer and winter breaks. When calculating Plaintiff’s arrears, the probation department applied the 75% reduction to all months that the children were in college, including the one child’s years in law school.
On appeal, the New Jersey Appellate Division concluded that the child’s years in a graduate program should not have been included in the probation department’s arrears calculation. According to the parties’ agreement, Plaintiff was not required to pay child support beyond graduation from college.
In this case, the parties’ agreement dictated which parent would support the children during graduate school, and in this case, neither parent was responsible. It is possible, however, to form an agreement in which the child will be supported through graduate school.
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