Adult Child Maintenance

Need help with financial support for a child over 18 years? Get in touch with a family law specialist who can offer you adult child maintenance advice. Our family lawyers in Brisbane City are experienced in dealing with child support modification, and can ensure your children are provided for appropriately.

What is Adult Child Maintenance?

Do you have a child that is over the age of 18 years, has started tertiary studies or has a disability, and is no longer within the Child Support System? There is scope to obtain financial support for a child in this situation.

A child support assessment will usually end when a child turns 18. However, where the Child Support legislation stops, there is scope for the Family Law Act (FLA) to step in. Under the FLA parents can in some cases be required by a Court order to pay maintenance for a child who is over 18 years of age.

The obligation to pay for an adult child is worded more as an exception to the rule. Such that “a Court must not make an ‘Adult Child Maintenance Order” in relation to a child who is 18 years old or over unless the Court is satisfied that the provision of the financial support is necessary…”

Working out Adult Child Maintenance

Therefore for a Court to make an order that a parent pay child maintenance for an adult child, it must be satisfied that provision of the maintenance is necessary for one of the following reasons:

  1. to enable the child to complete his or her education; or
  2. because of a mental or physical disability of the child.

In deciding if an order should be made, the Court must consider the following:

  • Necessary expenses of the child;
  • The contribution the child is making to their own upkeep. There is an expectation that adult children will contribute to their own support by working part-time where this is possible. If the child has disabilities and is not able to work a medical certificate should be provided; and
  • The capacity of each parent to provide financial support. This includes a consideration of each parent’s income, expenses, financial resources and earning capacity.

What’s included in the payment?

Necessary expenses include:

  • The adult child’s share of food, household supplies, utilities, housing and transport (even if this is paid by a parent);
  • Costs to do with study, such as books, internet fees and computer equipment, TAFE fees (but not HELP-HECS and other government student loans). For children with special needs, expenses associated with their disabilities can also be considered; and
  • Medical needs including optical, dental, doctors’ visits, prescriptions and other medical expenses.

Maintenance may also pay for clothing, toiletries and hairdressing, car and phone expenses of the child. Entertainment and social expenses are generally not included.

When does Adult Child Maintenance stop?

The Court may stipulate that the Court order stops when:

  • The adult child finishes their education, for example, completes their qualification. The Court may not make an order for a second degree or qualification if the adult child continues studying; or
  • A particular time period has ended, for example, three years to allow the adult child to finish their education. There may be conditions in the order, such as proof of passing subjects. If the adult child fails a subject, the order may stop; or
  • The adult child no longer has the particular illness or disability, or after a particular period of time, for example three years, to review the child’s illness or disability.

Enforcing Adult Child Maintenance

A court order for adult child maintenance can be registered with the Child Support Agency for collection of those payments. As part of our family law services, our lawyers can assist you with this.

Adult Child Maintenance – FAQs

Q. Who can apply?

A. A child who is no longer within the scope of the child support legislation or a parent with primary financial support for that child.

Q. Is there a formula for calculation?

A. No. There is no formula. The method for calculation is set out in the Family Law Act and is broadly discretionary.

Q. What if a parent refuses to provide financial support?

A. If a maintenance dispute arises and the adult child has a legitimate entitlement to financial support, our family law firm can assist. As there is no government agency designated for these cases, an application to court is required to determine the matter if no negotiated agreement is reached.

Speak to One of Queensland’s Largest Family Law Firms

We hope this information is helpful. Contact us for your own advice by phoning (07) 3221 4300 for a fixed-cost no obligation appointment with a family law solicitor. We can meet with you in person at our Brisbane CBD office or discuss your situation over the phone or by SKYPE or Zoom.

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