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Are children who work no longer in need of support payments?

If you are a divorced parent, you may wonder what might happen if your teenage son or daughter finds a job. Would that terminate the child support obligations you or your former spouse have to meet? While it is important that your offspring enter the workforce when they are old enough and start earning a paycheck, New York law requires that children must continue to receive financial support from both parents even if a child finds part time work.

According to New York state law, the obligation of a parent to give a child financial support lasts until the child turns 21 years of age. However, state law will consider a child emancipated if the child reaches any number of possible thresholds. For instance, if a child completes four years of college before turning 21, gets married or joins the military, the child is generally considered emancipated under New York law.

The key to emancipation is that the child is not living with a parent and has the ability to support him or herself. So for example, if your teenage son should find work inside a movie theater for a few days out of the week during the summer, your son would not be considered emancipated. Jobs taken for just the summer or during a vacation period are not enough to qualify for emancipation.

Basically, if your child is under the age of 21 and still living with you, state law is almost certain to require the child to continue to receive financial support. A part time job will not change that. Also be aware that under state law, a child may achieve emancipation but if financial circumstances change before the child reaches 21 years old, the child may be considered financially dependent on a parent once again.

Since familial circumstances vary widely across New York families, this article should not be considered legal advice. It is written to educate readers on child support topics.

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Hall, Ricketts, Schuller & Gurbacki, P.C.
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