‘You might remember ‘Failure to Launch’ as a bad romantic comedy film. If you haven’t seen the film, all you need to know is it that it is about a thirty-something guy who lives with his parents and relies financially on them. Regardless of the quality of the film, the subject matter is not too remote from the reality of many families today.
Increasing numbers of adult children are remaining in the family home, well into their adulthood. Many are undertaking tertiary study and the costs of “moving out” are insurmountable. For young adults with disabilities, living independently of their carer may not be possible.
If your adult child is still financially dependent on you, and you are separated from your adult child’s parent, chances are your requests from the other parent to ‘pitch in’ may have been met with resistance.
While a parent’s obligation to pay child support ends when a child turns 18 or finishes secondary schooling, adult child maintenance orders can be made where financial support is necessary for a child to complete education or because they have a mental or physical disability.
Education may include TAFE, university courses, apprenticeships and vocational education. Medical evidence will be required to establish the need for financial support for a child with special needs.
Either the child, or the parent caring for them, can apply to the Court for periodic adult child maintenance. If an order is made, it is enforceable by the Child Support Agency.
When considering an application for child maintenance, the Court must take into account:
• The objects of the Act in ensuring that children have their needs met through assistance from both parents and that parents equitably share supporting their children;
• The capacity of each parent to provide support, by examining each parent’s income, expenses, financial resources and income earningcapacity;
• The proper needs of the child. This may include consideration of the child’s age, the manner in which both parties expected that the child would be educated or trained and any special needs of the child;
• The necessary expenses for the child. This may include living costs and items such as textbooks or equipment. For children with special needs this may include costs of equipment, treatment or other costs associated with their disability;
• The income, earning capacity and financial resources of the child. The child’s ability to earn or derive income will be considered but their entitlement to government allowances or benefits disregarded. If you are a young adult or a parent experiencing “failure to launch” syndrome and you do not feel the other parent is providing adequate support, obtain legal advice about whether adult child maintenance orders may be an option for you.
Jacquelyn Curtis is an Associate of the firm 18 Kendall Lane,
New Acton canberra City ACT 2601