Can children still receive child support after 18 years old? Definitely! The Department of Human Services (DHS) governs parents’ financial obligations to their children until the child reaches the age of 18. However, parents may learn that their financial obligation to support their child doesn’t necessarily stop when the child turns 18. The payment for children over 18 is called child maintenance.
At this age, children can already look for a job so they can take care of themselves financially. While this is good news for parents supporting their children for 18 years, this is not always the case. Section 66L of the Family Law Act 1975 states courts can order one or both parents to financially support children over 18.
Child support after 18 years old is called adult child maintenance. Courts will only make adult child maintenance orders if children need to finish their education. These children might still need financial help to fund their tertiary education, vocational training, or even apprenticeships.
On a more serious note, children can receive child support after they’re 18 years old if they have mental or physical disabilities and are not able to fend for themselves. This article will discuss child support after 18 years old.
Child Support After 18 Years Old: Who Makes the Assessments?
Services Australia (Child Support Registrar) determines the amount of child support a parent will pay to the other parent. The obligation of the paying parent to pay child support ends when kids reach the age of 18. However, if kids turn 18 during their final year of school, the Child Support Registrar will contact the paying parent.
The Child Support Registrar contacts the paying parent, so they can apply to extend the assessment until kids finish their final year of school. Parents should also see if they both agree to the idea of paying child support after 18 years old.
After all, both parents must agree in order to lodge an adult child maintenance order. In addition to the parents, even the adolescents themselves, grandparents, and any other person concerned with the adolescent’s welfare can apply for adult child maintenance orders. When talking about child support after 18 years old, the court will consider the:
- Earning capacity of the parents and see if they are fit to financially support their adult child;
- Financial capability of both parents in order to support themselves;
- Capacity of adult children financially supporting themselves;
- Other children that a parent is supporting;
- Possibility of the child passing or failing his/her tertiary education, vocational trainings, and apprenticeships;
- Relationship between the adult child and parents; and
- Possibility of the adolescent having job offers.
Child Support After 18 Years Old: A Related Case Study
Now a question that might pop up in someone’s mind is “What if the other parent refuses to pay adult child maintenance?”. In the case of Dorsett & Godard (2017), the husband (Mr Godard) refuses to pay adult child maintenance to the mother (Ms Dorsett). In his defence, Godard claimed that he doesn’t have the capacity to provide financial support for their adult child (Ms D).
This is because he claimed that he is covering their other (second) child’s school fees. He also made a claim that this child was failing at school so both parents decided that they each pay half of his school fees. However, the courts did not find a proper basis for this claim and arrangement.
The husband is a professional that maintains an office in Town A and another one in Sydney. On the other hand, the wife works as a professional consultant in Town A as well. Meanwhile, Ms D was working two afternoons per week and was earning $20 per hour. She also stated that:
- Renting a small bedroom in a shared home would cost her approximately $300;
- Food would cost her $150 per week;
- She needs to travel from university and pay her own electric bills; and
- She needs to pay her school fees, clothing, and socialising which will total $150 per week.
Godard, however, opposed these expenses since there was no credible evidence to back up these claims. Furthermore, Godard also stated that Ms D has an alleged “attitude of entitlement” in order to support his opposition. While he also stated that Ms D’s expenses shouldn’t exceed $450, he gave no breakdown of this proposed number.
Case Results and Takeaways
The court did accept Godard’s argument of having Ms D rent private accommodation since it’s a cheaper option. However, this does not save Godard from paying adult child maintenance. Thus, the court ordered that Godard will pay $450 per week as adult child maintenance payments to Dorsett. Godard’s claims of Ms D having an “attitude of entitlement” already displayed a negative parent-child relationship.
Moreover, he also made claims that did not include exact numbers for their other child’s school fees. This is a perfect example of why it’s important to state the exact costs of adult child maintenance before making claims. The courts also understood that Ms D really needed financial support in order to finish her tertiary studies.
It’s good to know that there is an existing law that enables children to receive child maintenance after they’re 18 years old. This makes adolescents think that they are financially supported, even if they can’t support themselves financially or if they have mental or physical disabilities. However, not all parents may afford to pay adult child maintenance. So, what’s a better solution than to seek advice from a family lawyer?
The Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
Family lawyers can assist in finding the best mode of payment for parties who can’t afford to pay adult child maintenance. They can also help parties have reassessments in case Services Australia made miscalculations about adult child maintenance payments.
Moreover, disputed parties might opt for court procedures like the case study highlighted above. JB Solicitors has over 30 years of experience in family law, and has helped clients achieve the best results in their cases. Some disputed parties think that expensive court procedures are the obvious option to settle adult child maintenance arguments.
However, our mediation services prove that not only it is cheaper, but it also helps parties reach out-of-court agreements. Mediation also helps disputed parties come up with their own customised resolution that best suits their situation.
Contact us today for matters related to child support after 18 years old i.e. child maintenance.