Adult child maintenance
A parent’s financial responsibility towards their child does not necessarily cease when a child reaches the age of 18.
Section 66L of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides that a court can order one or both parents to provide financial support to a child over the age of 18 if it is necessary:
The following people may make an application to the court for an adult child maintenance order:
The court will consider the following:
The court can also take into consideration the relationship between the child and the parent who is being asked to pay adult child maintenance. The court may take into consideration whether a parent would be asked for advice or guidance from the child in relation to the child’s academic decisions and whether they would receive any ‘thanks’ for the financial support. However, a parent who is estranged from their child is not exempt from having an adult child maintenance awarded against them. However, it may reduce the amount that to be paid by the estranged parent, but it may not.
If the adult child maintenance application is for a disabled child, the court will consider the reasonable expenses of the disabled child.
The court will only award maintenance ‘necessary’ as opposed to ‘desirable’ to enable the child to complete their education. This can include accommodation costs, utilities, food, clothing, toiletries, haircuts, telephone bills, medical and dental expenses and motor vehicle expenses. Entertainment and social expenses are generally not included, as they are not considered ‘necessary’ for the child’s education.
Expenses associated with the course of study might also be included such as internet fees, computer equipment and study costs. However, tuition fees which can be deferred by HECS, FEE-HELP or government loans are excluded. A court may make an order that the parent/s pay adult child maintenance on a periodic basis or by way of a lump-sum payment.
For more information or to discuss further, please contact HopgoodGanim Lawyers' Family Law team.
The contents of this paper are not intended to be a complete statement of the law on any subject and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice in specific fact situations. HopgoodGanim Lawyers cannot accept any liability or responsibility for loss occurring as a result of anyone acting or refraining from acting in reliance on any material contained in this paper.