Generally, if there is a child support assessment in place pursuant to the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (CSA) or if the parents of a child have come to their own private arrangements in respect of child support, these payments usually cease upon the child reaching the age of eighteen. However, child support can continue to be required until the child has completed secondary schooling (if they are turning eighteen while still completing their final year of school) upon an application being made for the extension prior to the child’s birthday.  There are also other circumstances which can end the agreement to pay child support in accordance with the CSA, including:

  • the death of the child or a parent;
  • if the child gets married or enters into a de facto relationship;
  • the child is no longer ordinarily residing in Australia, a resident in Australia or an Australian citizen, and no international maintenance agreement is applicable.

However, there are provisions under the Family Law Act 1975 (FLA) to step in when the Child Support legislation stops, if it is determined by the Court that the child in question requires the continuation of the provision of financial support after they have come of age.

An ‘Adult Child Maintenance Order’ (ACMO) will not be made unless the Court is satisfied that the financial support is necessary for either the child to complete their education or due to a mental/physical disability of the child. 

Further, if the Court decides that an ACMO is to be made, it must then consider three separate factors in order to determine the details of the order. These include what the necessary expenses of the child are, whether the child is capable of contributing to their own upkeep (including working if possible and if not then a medical certificate should be provided), as well as the capacity of each parent to provide financial support.  The capacity of each parent is assessed by using a range of factors, including their income, expenses, earning capacity and financial resources as well as any other dependants.

Again, there is wide scope as to what would be determined to be a ‘necessary expense’ for the child, but this can include food, lodging, transport and study costs as well as medical expenses and general maintenance items.

There are also various ways that the Court can tailor an order to suit particular circumstances, including stipulating that the order stops upon the child completing their education or qualification or a defined period of time given for the completion of their education has expired (for example  three years).  It can also include provisions that the child must be passing their subjects for the order to remain on foot.  If the adult child suffers from a disability or medical condition, the order can cease upon the child no longer suffering from the particular illness or disability, or the order can state that the child’s illness or disability is to be reviewed after a particular period of time.

Each case will turn on its own facts and the Court will consider each of the individual circumstances involved when determining whether an ACMO should be made.  If you have any queries regarding child support, an adult child or any other family law matters, we strongly recommend that you contact one of the experienced and professional family lawyers at Affinity Lawyers on the Gold Coast on 07 5563 8970 to discuss your rights, obligations and options in respect of property and children’s matters.