Paying Child Support for Adult Children

Paying for adult children 

Child support payments usually stop when the child turns 18. 

However, there are some circumstances where the court will make orders for what is called adult child maintenance.

Financial support for children aged over 18 can be obtained if the child needs help to complete their education, or if the child has a mental or physical disability.

A judge will usually consider the following when looking into an application for adult child maintenance:

  • Necessary expenses of the child – this includes a contribution to their living expenses and items such as study books and equipment. However, HELP-HECS payments are not considered a necessary expense.
  • For a child with special needs, any expenses associated with their disability.
  • The contribution the child is making to their own upkeep. There is an expectation that adult children contribute to their own support by working part-time where possible. If the child has disabilities, and is not able to work, medical evidence will have to be produced.
  • The capacity of each parent to provide financial support. This includes a consideration of each parent’s income, expenses, financial resources and earning capacity.

In a recent case (Holiday & Holiday) a daughter had lived with her mother since her parents separated during her childhood. The father had made regular child support payments. After high school, the daughter started a university course and applied for financial support from her father. 

The court found her weekly expenses exceeded her income by $237, and the father was ordered to pay $150 per week to his daughter for adult child maintenance. The daughter was ordered by the court to immediately inform her father when she had either finished her degree, dropped out of university, or started a de-facto relationship.

Another recent case (Ballantyne & Ballantyne) involved a child who had been born with Down Syndrome. Now aged 20, the child was living with his mother and was unable to work.

The mother told the court her earning capacity was limited, as she was caring for the child and was seeking $1068.50 per week from her former partner.

The father had a fixed income of $250,000 a year, but he argued the needs of his child could be met from the funds he received from the government. 

In this case, the court found the mother’s calculation of the child’s needs to be “excessive” and the father was ordered to pay $230 per week for a period of three years.

Each case of adult child maintenance is unique and requires expert legal advice. 

If you have any questions regarding adult child maintenance, custody arrangements, or any other family law matter, please contact Bickell & Mackenzie at (07) 3206 8700. Our family law experts are here to help you.

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