Child Support

Daughter is Emancipated for Child Support Purposes When She Took The State Administered Licensing Exam for Nurses and Not When She Graduated With a Degree In Nursing

In the child support litigation case of Lantz v. Lantz, 20-2-4790, App. Div. New Jersey, the plaintiff Stuart Lantz and defendant Ivy Brown married in 1985 and divorced in 2003. At the time of their divorce, the parties’ son and daughter were teenagers, and their dual judgment of divorce incorporates a detailed marital settlement agreement (MSA). The MSA addresses alimony, basic child support and allocation of responsibility for specified expenses including medical and dental care not covered by insurance and college education. The parties’ son graduated from college in May 2009, and in conformity with the MSA he was emancipated in May 2009. Their daughter graduated from college with a degree in nursing in May 2012. Lantz appeals and Brown cross-appeals from a post-judgment order that addresses Lantz’s motion to emancipate the parties’ daughter effective May 12, 2012, the day following her college graduation, and Brown’s cross-motion to delay their daughter’s emancipation until she passed the licensing exam and obtained employment as a nurse. The order also addresses Brown’s cross-motion to enforce Lantz’s support obligations under their MSA, as modified by post-judgment orders. On Brown’s representation that their daughter took the State-administered licensing exam for nurses at the end of July, the judge emancipated the parties’ daughter effective July 31, 2012. The judge denied Brown’s request for an order compelling Lantz to reimburse their son for a college loan the son paid off after his graduation. The judge, however, awarded Brown adjusted arrears for alimony and basic child support, the full amount Brown sought for the children’s college expenses, medical and dental expenses and counsel fees for the expense Brown incurred to enforce the MSA. The appellate panel finds the judge misinterpreted provisions of the MSA addressing emancipation and Lantz’s obligation for room and board expenses. Therefore, the panel reverses the provisions of the order addressing those issues and remands. Modification of the emancipation date and room and board expenses awarded to Brown will alter Lantz’s arrears and warrants an adjustment of the counsel fees awarded to Brown in aid of her rights as a litigant. Those matters must be reconsidered as well. Otherwise, the panel rejects the parties’ respective objections and affirms the order.

Reference: Case & Analysis, New Jersey Law Journal, 217N.J.L.J.469, (August 11, 2014)

Filed Under: Child Support; Emancipation; Family Law; Marital Settlement Agreement

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