Adult Child Maintenance

Swanwick Murray Roche – Rockhampton & CQ Family Lawyers and Solicitors

Unsure what your options are? We can help…

What is Adult Child Maintenance?

Adult child maintenance (financial support) is available where:

  • you have a child that is over the age of 18 years; and
  • the child has started tertiary studies or has a disability; and
  • the child is no longer within the Child Support System.

Adult child maintenance is not granted automatically. The court will only make an Adult Child Maintenance Order if the court is satisfied that the provision of financial support is necessary. 

Working out Adult Child Maintenance

Element One – Eligibility

For a Court to make an order that a parent pay child maintenance for an adult child (person over 18 years of age), the court must be satisfied that financial maintenance is necessary for the following reasons:

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

Element Two – Calculating the Expenses

The Court must then consider the following:

  • Necessary expenses of the child;
  • The contribution the child is making to their own upkeep. There is an expectation that adult children will contribute to their own support by working part-time where this is possible. If the child has disabilities and is not able to work a medical certificate should be provided; and
  • The capacity of each parent to provide financial support. This includes a consideration of each parent’s income, expenses, financial resources and earning capacity.

Necessary expenses include:

  • The adult child’s share of food, household supplies, utilities, housing and transport (even if this is paid by a parent);
  • Costs to do with study, such as books, internet fees and computer equipment, TAFE fees (but not HELP-HECS and other government student loans). For children with special needs, expenses associated with their disabilities can also be considered; and
  • Medical needs including optical, dental, doctors’ visits, prescriptions and other medical expenses.
  • May also include clothing, toiletries and hairdressing, car and phone expenses of the child. Entertainment and social expenses are generally not included.
When does Adult Child Maintenance stop?

The court order granting adult child maintenance will also specify when it stops. This can include when:

  • The adult child finishes their education, for example, completes their qualification. The Court may not make an order for a second degree or qualification if the adult child continues studying; or
  • A particular time period has ended, for example, three years to allow the adult child to finish their education. There may be conditions in the order, such as proof of passing subjects. If the adult child fails a subject, the order may stop; or
  • The adult child no longer has the particular illness or disability, or after a particular period of time, for example three years, to review the child’s illness or disability.
Enforcing Adult Child Maintenance

An order for adult child maintenance can be enforced in the same way as child support – via registration with the Child Support Agency. Our family lawyers can assist you with this.

Adult Child Maintenance – FAQs

Q. Who can apply?

A. A child who is no longer within the scope of the child support legislation or a parent with primary financial support for that child.

Q. Is there a formula for calculation?

A. No. There is no set formula. The Court considers what ever factors are reasonably related and makes an assessment from that.

Q. What if a parent refuses to provide financial support?

A. There is no government agency which is designated for these cases. Accordingly, a court application is required. Our family law lawyers can assist you in making such an application.

Why are we different?

Our experienced lawyers know that you need:

  • someone who understands the emotions and attitudes of the people involved in your situation;
  • your concerns; especially around financial security, child custody, personal safety and so on;
  • someone who will provide upfront information about pricing and legal costs (and keep you updated as the matter progresses);
  • a lawyer who will provide practical, results-focused advice.

Our family lawyers know that family law clients are usually experiencing one of the most emotional times of their life – a fear of the unknown, concern over financial security, worry for future care of children, anxiety around personal safety and so on. Added to this, most people don’t know what their legal options are – especially when well-meaning friends or family offer advice that may or may not be correct. Our family lawyers see your whole matter and not just the court documents that need to be drafted.

Our lawyers cut through these issues and provide you with legal advice and a strategy based on decades of legal experience to give you the confidence to move forward with your life.

At your first appointment:

  • you meet with an experienced lawyer;
  • you are advised in frank terms about legal costs and estimates to the end of your matter;
  • our lawyer listens to you and understands your matter;
  • our lawyer gives you some basic advice about how we start and handle your matter going forward.

Our family lawyers

Our team is well trained and regularly participate in specialist seminars, reading industry updates, court decisions & legislative amendments. Our team stays in contact with industry professionals (such as forensic accountants, investigators, valuers, real estate agents and so on) to ensure we have good working relationships with the right people when you need it.

Click on our staff profiles to learn more about each of our experienced family law team members:


Check out some of our recent legal updates and property resources that you might find useful on this Family Law Resources link. Please remember that these updates and resources are general guidance only. If you need legal advice, you should contact us to discuss your matter as your personal circumstances may not suit the circumstances described in the updates and resources.

During family law legal matters, many issues come up that require the support of experienced social support works and other professionals. Here are some links to support resources that may help you (please ensure that you make yourself familiar with any confidentiality rules or seek advice from us):

Adult Child Maintenance

Relationship support


To talk about your matter – reach out to us via any means to start a conversation. All of our contact information is listed here on our Contact Page.


David Lipke

David Lipke is a partner of our Rockhampton firm overseeing the litigation and insurance division in the firm. His experience includes work in institutional claims, workers compensation and motor accident claims.

Terry Tummon

Terry Tummon is a partner of the firm overseeing the family law division. Terry’s experience includes dealing with property settlement and litigation matters.

Robert Rooney

Robert Rooney is a partner of the firm overseeing the commercial & business, property, wills & estates division. His experience includes commercial transaction and advisory work.

Katina Perren

Katina Perren is a solicitor of the firm, Independent Children’s Lawyer and Separate Representative. Her experience includes work in custody, separation, divorce and property settlement matters.

Nicola Goodwin

Nicola Goodwin is a solicitor of Swanwick Murray Roche practicing in family law, divorce and separation matters, parenting disputes and court applications for family matters.


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