Adult child maintenance – Maintenance to fund university education


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Adult child maintenance – Maintenance to fund university education

An application was made recently by the Mother of a 19 year old seeking that his Father pay the child adult maintenance. The matter was heard in the Federal Magistrates Court at Adelaide.

The Mother in this matter suffered from ill health. The Mother and Father had been separated for some years and both children of the marriage lived with the Mother. The adult son was 19, attending university and working part-time. The second child, a daughter was in her final year of school.

The Father lived alone and was previously working full-time and earning $158,000. He had reduced his work hours to work part-time and his income was now $83,000 per annum. The reduction in work was due to his age, health, and wish to work until age 65. As a result in the drop in the Father’s income, there had been a significant drop in the level of child support paid by the Father to the Mother for the younger child.

The Court found that when considering an application for adult child maintenance, it must consider whether it is necessary and proper for there to be an award of adult child maintenance in the particular case.

Section 66L(1) of the Family Law Act requires that for an Order that child maintenance by paid for children over the age of 18 the following must apply:

(1) A Court must not make a child maintenance order in relation to a child who is 18 or over unless the Court is satisfied that the provision of the maintenance is necessary:

(a) to enable the child to complete his or her education; or

(b) because of mental or physical disability of the child.

If either of these conditions are not satisfied, the Court is directed not to make an Order for child maintenance.

The Court found that there was a marked disparity between the incomes of the Mother’s household and the Father.

A decision was made by the Federal Magistrate that it was appropriate that the Father pay to the adult child maintenance of $1,000 per semester to fund the child’s tertiary education. The payment was conditional on the adult child continuing with his university studies.