Legally, a child becomes an adult on his or her eighteenth birthday. This is the date at which he or she does not need parental permission for decisions such as marrying, elective surgery, tattoos and other body modifications, and working. For most individuals, this transition from childhood to adulthood is known as “emancipation.”
When a child is emancipated, his or her parents lose the right to make decisions on his or her behalf. They also lose their financial responsibility toward him or her.
An adolescent may seek emancipation through the court if he or she feels he or she must become a legal adult before the age of eighteen. This often occurs when he or she is tasked with caring for younger siblings, needs to leave an abusive household, or is engaged in a lucrative career and needs to have complete control over his or her finances.
There are certain events in an adolescent’s life that can emancipate him or her before the age of eighteen. These include:
A young adult may remain under his or her parents’ care beyond age eighteen if he or she attends college after high school. This extends his or her parents’ financial obligation to him or her until he or she graduates or leaves college. In New Jersey, completing a post-secondary degree can also emancipate a young man or woman. Adults who do not attend college are emancipated once they find or are capable of finding fulfilling, full-time work.
In some cases, a young adult might never be emancipated. This is generally due to a physical or mental disability that prevents him or her from working and providing for him or herself. In cases like this, the young adult’s parents remain responsible for his or her care and financial well-being for the remainder of their lives or the grown child’s life. Parents of disabled adults often opt to set up trust funds to ensure that their child is cared for after their deaths.
Talk to your attorney about the changes that may come when your child becomes emancipated and how his or her choices can affect when he or she is emancipated. If you are currently making child support payments, it is important to know how they will change according to these choices so you are prepared to face them. Call The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. today at (732) 365-3299 or visit our firm on the web to begin this discussion with one of our firm’s experienced family attorneys.