It is well settled that in a divorce, both parents have an obligation to support a child until he or she becomes emancipated. The case summarized below the NJ Supreme Court was presented with a fact pattern that included an adult child who might never be emancipated do to autism and the appropriate method of providing financial support for that child. The Court approved the use of a special needs trust in lieu of traditional child support payments if it could be shown that the establishment of the special needs trust was in the child’s best interests. When divorce law and special needs law intersect it is imperative that you retain counsel experienced in both fields. The Durst Firm has worked with families who have special needs children and has a network of attorneys who specialize in special needs law with whom we engage when necessary.
Special-Needs Trusts in Lieu of Child Support Win Court Favor
In its first opportunity to consider the role of trusts for the benefit of adult, unemancipated, disabled children of divorce, the New Jersey Supreme Court said judges should not reject such arrangements out of hand if created for the children’s best interests. Though affirming two lower courts that held a proposed special-needs trust — for a 25-year-old autistic son living in a group home — lacked sufficient detail on how it would be in his best interests, the justices, in J.B. v. W.B., allowed another chance to prove it and enunciated guidelines.