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Adult Child Maintenance

A child who is over 18 may be able to obtain financial support from a parent if the child:

  • is completing their secondary or tertiary education – they are at high school, TAFE, university, or a course at a private college (apprenticeships may also be included)
  • has a serious illness
  • has a physical or mental disability.

This is called adult child maintenance.

Section 66L of the Family Law Act 1975 allows a court to make orders for child maintenance for children who are 18 or over, commonly termed ‘adult maintenance orders.’ In Western Australia, section 123 of the Family Court Act 1997 (WA) provides an equivalent provision for ex-nuptial residents of Western Australia.

An adult child who is married or living in a de-facto relationship is not able to get adult child maintenance.

Payment of Child Support for Children over 18

Section 151B of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) (the Assessment Act) allows a carer entitled to child support to apply to the Child Support Registrar to extend a child support assessment for a child until the last day of the secondary school year if:

  • the child will turn 18 during that year; and
  • the child is in full-time secondary education.

‘Secondary school’ has a broad meaning in this context, and is not limited just to schools, but includes a TAFE college or other educational institution which provides full-time secondary education. A child may also receive a full-time secondary education through distance or online learning provided by a secondary school.

Section 151C of the Child Support (Assessment) Act specifies that the Registrar must accept the application if and only if the Registrar is satisfied that:

  • the child has turned 17 but not yet turned 18 (unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying a late application);
  • an administrative assessment in relation to the child, or that takes the child into account, is in force, or is likely to be in force, on the day before the child’s 18th birthday; and
  • the child’s 18th birthday will be on or before the last day of the secondary school year.

Otherwise the Registrar must refuse the application. It is important to note that the Registrar’s discretion in relation to the application is limited to determining, to the Registrar’s satisfaction, whether or not the qualifying conditions are met. If the conditions are met the application must be accepted.


*The information provided in this website serves as a general guide and does not constitute legal advice. It is based on our research and experience at the time of publication. Please consult our knowledgeable legal team for any specific inquiries or advice relevant to your circumstances, as the content may not have been updated subsequently.