Adult Child maintenance, as distinct from child support, may be payable for a child over the age of 18 years where a child has special needs due to education, training, mental or physical handicap.

The Court has a discretion as to whether child maintenance should be paid for a child over the age of 18 years.

The Role of the Family Court

If an application is made to the Family Court for maintenance for a child over 18 years, the Court must consider the financial support necessary for the maintenance of the child and determine the financial contribution or respective financial contributions towards the financial support payable by the parents.

The Family Court considers

When determining the financial support necessary for the maintenance of a child, the "proper needs" of the child must be assessed.  The Court must also take into account income, property and the financial resources of the child.

When determining the needs of a child, the Court should not take into account any entitlement of the child to an income tested pension allowance or benefit.  This provision aims to increase child maintenance payments so that government expenditure on social security benefits are reduced.

In taking into account the proper needs of a child, the Court must have regard to –

  • the age of the child,
  • the manner in which the child is being or is expected by the parents to be educated or trained, and
  • any special needs of the child.

The Court may have regard to any relevant published research in relation to the cost of maintaining children.

Child maintenance and tertiary education 

When considering whether child maintenance should be paid for a child undertaking tertiary education, the Court would probably consider the following –

  • whether the course being pursued by the child is going to help the child earn an income,
  • whether the child appears to be qualified to pursue and profit from the course,
  • whether the child had scholarship assistance or other income,
  • what hardship would result to the child if he had to abandon the course through lack of means, and
  • whether the parent asked to pay – has the means to assist.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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