Should Separating Adults Be Responsible for Children Over the Age of Maturity?

5 October 2020
 Categories: Law, Blog


In general terms, a child is considered to be an adult when they reach the age of 18. Typically, this will mean that they are responsible for their own actions and should not rely on their parents for guidance, shelter, or financial support. Therefore, if a couple was going through a separation or divorce and children were involved, they might expect their financial obligations to be "free and clear" if the children in question were over that age of maturity. However, this is not always the case, and if you're in this position, what do you need to know?

Child Maintenance

When two adults are going through this type of situation, it's not unusual for there to be disagreement. Sometimes these disagreements can be substantial, and they may not be able to agree, privately and in between them, on the way forward. Often, the next step is legal action and a date in front of a judge, but one thing is for sure, in this situation, the court will definitely put the needs of the children first.

Pass the Threshold

However, if the young person is over the age of 18 (in the absence of any mitigating factors), the adults will not be responsible for their welfare from a financial point of view. Yet there are circumstances where this is not the case — primarily in the event of disability or education.


For example, if a child has a certain level of physical or mental disability, then a court may consider this and require one or both of the adults to further contribute. In this case, he or she may be over that target age and may lack the physical capability or mental power to care for themselves as before. A court may issue an order requiring a parent to contribute towards adult maintenance, even though this may be capped at a certain amount of time.

Ongoing Education

There are times when the young person's education could be front and centre. If they have special needs or are particularly skilled and lack the resources themselves to continue, then a court may, once again, turn to the separating parents for support.

Expert Help Required

As always, each individual case will vary, and it does not necessarily follow that a court will judge in favour of the young person in either situation. It's very important, therefore, to enlist the services of a family law professional so that a case can be put forward to the court in pursuit of the most equitable outcome.