23 Jan 2019

Written by Eliza Fitzgerald, Solicitor, Family Law

Paying child support is designed to help meet the cost of caring for and raising your children when they are not living with you. But what happens when your child turns 18? Are you required to continue to maintain your adult child?  Interestingly, once your child reaches the age of 18, you are generally not legally required to support them. However, in certain circumstances, your adult child may still be eligible to receive maintenance. To ensure you have a basic understanding of adult child maintenance, we recommend you equip yourself with the following information.

1. CONSIDER WHETHER THE ADULT CHILD IS ELLIGIBLE
If you are a parent, you may be able to seek adult child maintenance from the adult child’s other parent if it is necessary to enable the adult child to complete their education or if your adult child has a physical or mental disability.
If your adult child is married or is living in a de facto relationship, they will not be eligible to receive adult child maintenance.

2. ATTEMPT TO COME TO A NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT
If you and your adult child’s other parent agree to the level of adult child maintenance the paying party should provide, you can formalise the agreement by putting it in writing and submitting it to the court for orders to be made by consent.

3. IF YOU CANNOT REACH AGREEMENT
If you cannot reach an agreement, you will be required to attend family dispute resolution prior to instituting proceedings in the Family Court. However, you may be exempt from attending dispute resolution in a variety of circumstances, such as if there has been family violence. For more information on family dispute resolution requirements, click here.

Once you have successfully complete family dispute resolution, or you have obtained an exemption, you may initiate proceedings in the Family Court, by paying the relevant fee and filing:
a) a Form 1 Application;
b) a supporting affidavit; and
c) a copy of your family dispute resolution certificate or exemption.
If your matter proceeds to trial, the court will make a decision based on the evidence provided by both parties.

4. IF CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE
If there are any changes to the adult child’s education, illness or disability, the adult child or the parent must inform the paying parent.

Adult child maintenance matters are notorious for the large impact they have on the relationship of the adult child and their parents. Consequently, we highly recommend you obtain comprehensive legal advice to determine if seeking adult child maintenance is the right decision for you or your adult child. If you think you may need assistance in regards to a child maintenance claim, our family law team at HHG Legal Group can advise you in relation to obtaining orders for adult child maintenance.

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