Does Child Support End at Graduation?

If you have a child who is about to graduate from high school or college, you may be wondering if child support will stop. We at Lyons & Associates, P.C. specialize in all aspects of matrimonial and family law. We often counsel clients on issues relating to graduation and child support.

Unlike many other States, New Jersey does not set forth an exact numeric age at which child support ends. Therefore, child support will not automatically end simply because a child turns 18 or 21, for example. Nor does graduation automatically end child support either. Like so many other areas of law in New Jersey, the true answer as to whether child support ends when a child graduates is “it depends.”

When it comes to high school graduation, child support can and often does continue if a child goes on to attend full-time college, full-time trade school, or some other type of full-time educational program. See Limpert v. Limpert, 119 N.J. Super. 438, 442 (App. Div. 1972). Most of the time, however, in order for the child support to continue while in college or trade school, the child must show proof that he or she is making reasonable progress towards obtaining the degree. See Van Brunt v. Van Brunt, 419 N.J. Super. 327, 329 (Ch. Div. 2010). In other words, the child cannot simply squander away his or her time in school.

If, on the other hand, a child does not continue a full-time education after graduating high school, or if the child gets a full-time job or goes into the military, then most likely child support will end.

Once a child graduates from college, most of the time child support does end. However, there are still some times when a parent might not be completely off the hook. There have been a few cases where parents have been made to continue to pay child support past college graduation, especially if their child goes on to attend graduate school and the parents have the economic resources to continue to pay child support. See Ross v. Ross, 167 N.J. Super. 441, 446 (Ch. Div. 1979).

In short, sometimes child support ends when a child graduates, and sometimes it does not. Each case is fact sensitive. If you or someone you know has questions about whether their child should stop, contact one of the experienced attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. by filling out our online intake form or by calling us at 908-575-9777.