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Adult Child Maintenance

Has anyone had any experience with Adult Child Maintenance?

My hubby has an agreement with ex which was made 7 years ago (see previous post re changing agreement when new legislation comes into force).  The ex will not enter into new agreement, so we are planning on going to the FMC in an attempt to get the original agreement set aside.

The ex has now said she will be applying for adult child support when eldest turns 18 and goes to Uni - she reckons our liability to HER (mmm… not girls) will stay the same until the eldest finishes Uni.

Currently we pay $2,600 per month plus $1,200 school fees. Our proposal to ex was to pay her the new amount from July 1st ($1,800 per month plus $1,200 month school fees) and to put the difference ($800 per month) in a trust for THE GIRLS to use as they seem fit when they leave school.

Under the new scheme our liability reduces because we have the girls half of the holidays and every alternate weekend.  BTW ex is now working but we cannot get any details of her income so have used the estimator using hubby's income and entering ex's income as $0 - this is how we got the $800 difference, this may be more when her income is factored in.

The CSA have said they can only assess cases until child turns 18 or finishes school and that Adult Child Maintenance comes under the jurisdiction of the family Court. Any advice would be appreciated.

Adult child support

I quote "A court in empowered to order a maintenance order for an adult child if this is necessary for either of the two reasons:

- to enable a child to complete his or her education, or

- because the child is mentally or physically handicapped.

Necessary in this context, s.76(3) means: reasonably necessary not absolutely necessary. In others words, parents are expected to pay.

See: In the marriage of Truck(1981) FLC 91 - 021 and In the marriage of Henderson(1989) FLC 92 -011 at 77,303.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on the site (Look for the Avatars).   Be mindful what you post in the public areas. 
This is from another post of mine.

Have a look at the family law Act at s66L.

Section 66L(1) provides that the court must not make an order for the maintenance of a child who is 18 or over unless it is satisfied that maintenance is necessary either:  

- to enable the child to complete their education, or

- because of a mental or physical disability of the child.

The court may also make a child maintenance order for a child who is 17 to take effect when the child turns 18. This is to avoid a gap in payments between the time the child turns 18 and the granting of any court order.

The court must not make an order extending beyond the day on which the child will turn 18 unless it is satisfied of one of the requirements of s 66L(1) (s 66L(2)). A child maintenance order stops being in force on the day on which the child turns 18 unless it is expressed to continue in force after then (s 66L(3)). See Rothstein v Child Support Registrar (1994) FLC ¶92-490.  

A child maintenance order made under s 66L stops being in force if the child ceases that education or ceases to have a disability (s 66VA(a)). The payee has a duty to inform the payer as soon as practicable of the change in circumstances (s 66VA(2)). Overpayments of maintenance may be recovered in a court having jurisdiction under Pt VII.

The big difference between Child Maintenance (Over 18) and child support is that the Maintenance is not a formula. It depends on factors such as need, income of children (do the girls have a part time job?) income of payee and payer, earning capacity etc.

The good news is plenty of scope for negotiation, not just the rigid application of a formula.
Thanks for that.

Eldest D does work on weekends (to pay for clothing etc… isn't this what the child support is for?)

Unfortunately the Ex cries poor and daughter is happy to pay for clothing - even necessities (everything except for school uniform which we pay for).

Will we be able to pay for adult child maintenance directly to daughter?  Hubby would prefer it to be this way.

Anyway it is good news that it is not as rigid as child support.

The Ex seems to think it is the same payment until daughter leaves uni. Which it can't be given our agreement terminates when eldest turns eighteen.
An interesting question when it is considered if a child post 18, not mentally disabled is entitled by right to have their education paid for, or like many other similarly situated tick it up on HECS.

Can a parent be compelled to pay for these expenses regardless of their capacity to pay?

Child Maintenance Trusts (CMT) are allowed in the Family Court, more expeditiously when both parties consent. An amount of around $300,000 is needed to seed a CMT as I read it.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
Because it is not a CSA matter, you are free to negotiate any sum which is reasonable. Make an offer. The method of payment can include money paid directly to daughter or to fees. Make sure you look at s 66J and s 66K. The test is about the "proper needs" of the child not the mother.

First step would be to establish the needs (not wants or luxuries), then establish the income & earning capacity of both parents and the child, then after considering these variables, establish what proportion of the reasonable needs you are willing to contribute and how that should be paid. It is not an exact science.

She will need to factor in possible legal fees if she rejects a reasonable offer and the matter needs to go to hearing. The costs of preparing for and running a hearing are probably the same as a year of maintenance.

Good luck.
Actually that is a VERY good point Testing123 - If a parent who previously pays CS then starts giving the 18+ child money directly, or pays some part of their living expenses then surely the FC's would then be unwilling to continue using the CSA.

It seems to me that there is a magical line that once a child is 18 and CS stops then the so does responsibility. What happens to parents trapped in the CS cycle who have a minimum or non existent relationship with their offspring? Does it all just go away at 18 like a bad debt?

It is actually rather appalling to have relationships with children reduced to that level, and one would hope that at 18 a parent can continue to support their child directly, rather than involving the other parent - regardless of which side of the fence they sit on. I'm not just talking money either but the whole relationship between parent and child.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
Taking Jadzia's point further, when you are not part of the CSA system you can use the money you pay to help build relationships which may have suffered.

This may not apply to you WA (original post) but it is not unheard of that even if money is being paid at the assessed rate the children receive a message that "we could afford that if your dad/mum paid child support" or similar.

If money goes straight to fees or to child you have the opportunity to show that (contrary to previous bad publicity) you are supportive.
Testing One-two

You are spot on; so much "bad publicity" has occurred and still happens at an alarming rate!

The Ex is extremely manipulative; you would be amazed at what the children tell us!

The posts on this site have all been really helpful.

As I said previously we are happy to pay child but not mother; seems like payments to the child are quite likely - fingers crossed.

Will keep you posted on developments with the FMC.
Jadzia said
Actually that is a VERY good point Testing123 - If a parent who previously pays CS then starts giving the 18+ child money directly, or pays some part of their living expenses then surely the FC's would then be unwilling to continue using the CSA.

I would hope paying some expense or giving the money directly to the child would prevent the need for FC involvement.
Do you mean Child Support Agency when you say CSA? If so, CSA can stay involved only until the end of the school year in which the child turns 18. FC's cannot continue to use CSA beyond that point, but can order maintenance without involvement of CSA.

Jadzia said
It seems to me that there is a magical line that once a child is 18 and CS stops then the so does responsibility. What happens to parents trapped in the CS cycle who have a minimum or non existent relationship with their offspring? Does it all just go away at 18 like a bad debt?
Interesting!

For parents with minimum or non existent relationship with their offspring, it may go away, or it may be a chance to build a new relationship. I believe the relationship is one of the factors the court will take into account if it does come to that.

In the meantime, what about the parents trapped in the no-CS cycle who do have a relationship with the young adult?

Centrelink regards those young people as still dependant on the parent with whom they do have a relationship and continues to income test them based on that parent even when they enter a defacto relationship and cease to live with that parent. There is no automatic requirement for the other parent to support the young adult.
Jadzia said
It is actually rather appalling to have relationships with children reduced to that level, and one would hope that at 18 a parent can continue to support their child directly, rather than involving the other parent - regardless of which side of the fence they sit on. I'm not just talking money either but the whole relationship between parent and child.
Agreed.



katie said
In the meantime, what about the parents trapped in the no-CS cycle who do have a relationship with the young adult?
 Centrelink regards those young people as still dependant on the parent with whom they do have a relationship and continues to income test them based on that parent even when they enter a defacto relationship and cease to live with that parent. There is no automatic requirement for the other parent to support the young adult.
  I'm not sure if I understood what you were saying here, but based on my interpretation of it here goes;

There needs to be allowances in the system for different cases - such as the one you mentioned. If a child moves out into another relationship then there SHOULD be no requirement on the part of either parent to support them, in all reality the child probably still hits parents up for loans, assistance anyway. Likewise if there is no relationship between a parent and child and the absent parent has no desire for a relationship then there should be leeway in whether support is required. Unfortunatly this is not happening as one of the points in child support is to prevent men from fathering children to different women and walking away leaving the financial burden on the welfare system, as well as to prevent women using men as sperm donors in the same way.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
verdad said
An interesting question when it is considered if a child post 18, not mentally disabled is entitled by right to have their education paid for, or like many other similarly situated tick it up on HECS.
The courts say no to Uni fees for exactly that reason.

Other basic living costs are generally considered favourably, always subject to capacity to pay, and usually with the expectation that the student will contribute to their own costs to the extent they can, consistent with puting in enough hours to pass the course.



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