Child support is payable until children are 18 years of age.

In current times, children often remain financially dependent on their parents or carers for many years after they are considered an ‘adult.’

If you are a separated parent, discussing ongoing contributions for the financial support of your adult child or children can be a difficult conversation.  

If you cannot reach a mutual agreement, you may be eligible to apply to the Court for an Order for child maintenance.

There are two scenarios where the Family Law Courts are empowered to make child maintenance Orders in relation to a child over 18, those being:

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

Relevant factors for consideration by the Court when determining a child maintenance application include:

  • the income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of the parents;
  • the amount the parents need to support themselves or other children the parent has a duty to maintain;
  • the capacity of the adult child to earn an income (although any entitlement to government income and allowances is disregarded);
  • whether the course to be pursued by the child is going to help the child earn an income;
  • the likelihood that the adult child will finish the course of study;
  • the hardship that will result to the child if they have to abandon the course through lack of means;
  • nature of the parent and child relationship;
  • whether the studies are post grad;
  • whether the adult child has refused reasonable job offers, including from the parent; and
  • the attitude of the adult child towards the parent.

Child maintenance is similar in nature to child support. It may specify a periodic amount (ie. weekly or fortnightly amount for the period of the child’s study) or a lump sum payment.  

Unlike child support, the amount payable is not determined by the Child Support Agency.

It is for the Court to determine the proper amount, considering what is necessary to maintain the child, the child’s age, any education the child is undertaking and any special needs of the child.

Who can apply for adult child maintenance?

An application for adult child maintenance can be made by an adult child, a parent, a grandparent or any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child.

For more information on adult child maintenance or any other family law issue, please contact our friendly family law team.


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