Generally, child support assessments and payments through the Department of Human Services (Child Support) come to an end when a child turns 18. If the child will still be attending secondary school when he or she turns 18, the person receiving child support payments may apply to the child support agency (Department of Human Services) for an extension of the child support assessment until the end of the school year.

The Relevant Law

In limited cases, an order for financial maintenance may be made under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) in relation to a dependent who is over 18 years of age if financial support is necessary, in the following circumstances:

1) to enable the child to complete his or her education; or
2) because of a mental or physical disability of the child.

Recent Consideration

In a recent case decided by Judge Burchardt in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia at Dandenong, Curry & Roscoe [2018] FCCA 2779, it was found that the father of the adult child of the parties (who was aged 19 at the time of the hearing) was to make weekly payments of $200 to the mother for a period of 3 years.

The mother was the carer for the adult child and was in receipt of a carer’s payment and allowance and family tax benefits. The father was self-employed. The adult child had a condition which prevented him from eating solid foods and another condition that made lifting items difficult for him. The child was also diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability and Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Persistent Depression Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder. The adult child was in receipt of the disability support pension and had been received into the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

After consideration of the relevant law and evidence the Judge observed that the adult child’s circumstances were such that he had a mental and physical disability and that it was necessary that he be provided with maintenance if it was practicable.

In relation to the financial circumstances of the parties, the Judge found that there was no difficulty whatever in the father paying up to $250 per week to the child’s benefit by way of adult child maintenance and that the mother’s income was extremely modest. She had a shortfall of income over expenditure of $160 per week.


Accordingly, the Judge found that a figure of $200 per week was appropriate given the adult child’s circumstances.

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