Adult child maintenance

Adult child maintenance and how to obtain it are the issues that we address in this blog.

Do you have a child in your care who is will still be at school when they turn 18 and not yet completed their secondary studies? Do you have a dependent over the age of 18 in your care who is suffering from a disability which limits their capacity to financially support themselves? If so, you may consider a claim for adult child maintenance.

Contact our child custody lawyers Brisbane or North Brisbane child custody lawyers for advice particular to your circumstances regards whether you have a claim for adult child maintenance. Our family lawyers at LGM Family Law  Brisbane CBD and Grange have the experience to assist you in any aspect of family law, including obtaining child support, a parenting order or parenting plan for children who are not adults. We offer a free 15 minute telephone consultation and reduced rate fixed fee initial consultations 07 3506 3651.

If you’d like to know more about options to seek adult child maintenance now, please read on!

What happens when my child turns 18?

Child support assessments and payments through the Department of Human Services (Child Support) will usually end when a child turns 18. However, section 151B of the the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 provides that if the child is still attending secondary school when he or she turns 18, the carer in receipt of payments can make an application to the Department of Human Services (Child Support) to extend the child support assessment until the end of the school year. This application can be made by telephone or via your online child support account but must be made before the child turns 18.

What happens after the child support assessment and payments end?

Section 66L of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides that an order for financial maintenance can be made for a dependent who is over 18 years of age if financial support is necessary in the following circumstances:

1) to enable the child to complete his or her education; or

2) because of a mental or physical disability of the child.

Applicable education can include secondary school, TAFE and university courses, apprenticeships and other vocational courses.

To obtain an Order for adult child maintenance, a carer will need to make an application to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Except for limited circumstances, before the adult child or carer is able to make the Court application, they are required to attempt to reach agreement between the adult child and one or both parents. This process can involve negotiation between the parties and their lawyers or a mediation can be arranged. If an agreement can be reached, the parties can lodge the agreement with the Court which can be made as an Order. However, failing an agreement between the parties an application must be made to Court for a Judge to consider the circumstances. The Court can then consider whether the course the adult child is undertaking is an appropriate path to assist the adult child to become independent.

During the Court process to determine any claim for adult child maintenance, a Judge will usually hear evidence from both parents and from the child. After hearing evidence from and reviewing documents provided by the parties, the Judge will decide whether financial maintenance is required and if so what is the appropriate rate of maintenance.  In coming to their decision, the Judge must consider the following matters:

  • What are the necessary expenses of the adult child? This includes contributions to their living expenses and items such as study books and equipment. For an adult child with a disability or special needs, expenses associated with their disabilities will be considered;
  • What are the contributions the adult 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 adult child has disabilities and is not able to work the applicant will need to provide medical evidence to establish this; and
  • What is the capacity of each parent to provide financial support? This includes a consideration of each parent’s income, expenses, financial resources and earning capacity.

If an Order for financial support payments is made by the Court, it can be registered for collection by Department of Human Services (Child Support) who can then monitor and manage the payments.

Contact our child custody lawyers Brisbane or North Brisbane child custody lawyers or call 07 3506 3651 if you would like more information or assistance with an application for adult child maintenance. Our friendly and knowledgeable family lawyers at LGM Family Law have experience in high conflict parenting matters and all aspects of family law, including obtaining a parenting order or parenting plan for children under 18 years of age and regards child support. We offer a free 15 minute telephone consultation and reduced rate fixed fee initial consultations.