Sunday, 19 January 2014

Child support for adult children

In today's competitive jobs climate - where higher education and vocational training are nigh on compulsory - it is not uncommon for many 'children'* to continue living in their parents homes long after their 18th birthday.
But when the parents are separated there are added considerations - such as who's responsibility is it to contribute for the child's costs of living and how?
Child support, under an administrative assessment by Child Support Australia (CSA), generally ceases to be payable when the child turns 18. Which could mean that the parent in whose house the child is living is left with the principle burden of funding the child - unless the other parent voluntarily contributed to those costs. And it can be difficult to rely on volunteer contributions - either because they are not regular contributions, or they have to be negotiated each time, or they just are not enough.
However, there are a number of options available.
The first is an extension of a child support assessment past 18 years of age - a parent entitled to child support may apply for an extension of the child support assessment until the last day of the school year if this day falls within 365 days of the child's 18th birthday.* The Child Support Registrar must be satisfied that the child is likely to be in full time secondary school (including school, TAFE or other secondary education) on their 18th birthday. The effect of an extension is that child support continues to be payable past the child's 18th birthday until the end of the school year or when the child leaves school - whichever is the earlier.
The second option is for the extension of a child support agreement - where both parents agree that a child support agreement should continue, or where the agreement states that it extends beyond the child's 18th birthday, the parent receiving child support can apply for an extension of the underlying assessment for a child support beyond the child's 18th birthday.
The third is for an application to be made to the Family Law Courts for an Order for the maintenance of an adult child. For such an application it is necessary to satisfy the Court that maintenance is necessary to enable the child to complete their education. Unlike the first option this option allows for payments to be made for a child to complete tertiary (such as university) education.
*It is important to note that there are significant Family Tax Benefit implications if a parent fails to apply for an extension to a child support assessment where they are so entitled.

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