When can an adult child make a financial claim against their parents?

A remarkable case was published last month in which a 41 year-old man sought to make a claim for financial support from his parents. The claim failed, but the case raises the question: when can an adult child make a financial claim against their parents?

Normally of course financial claims for children are made on their behalf by a parent, whilst the child is still a minor, i.e. under 18. However, it is possible for an adult child to make a financial claim against their parents, albeit in very limited circumstances.

Note that this post does not refer to claims by an adult child against the estate of a deceased parent – such claims are not unusual. And nor does it refer to civil money claims by a child against a parent, such as debt claims.

So what ‘family law’ claims can a child make against their parent(s)?

Since 1993 child maintenance claims have of course usually been made under the Child Support Act. However, the Act only provides for child support maintenance claims to be made by a parent or carer of the child – it does not include provision for adult children to claim maintenance for themselves.

There are, however, ways in which an adult child can make financial claims against their parents. In summary, there are provisions under which they can claim maintenance or even a lump sum from either or both of their parents.

But there are limitations to such claims, depending upon what type of claim is being made. We will not go into detail, but two particular limitations apply in all cases: a court can only make an order against a parent if:

1. The child is, will be or (if an order were made) would be, receiving instruction at an educational establishment or undergoing training for a trade, profession or vocation, whether or not while they are in gainful employment; or

2. There are special circumstances which justify the making of an order. ‘Special circumstances’ is not defined, but it is generally thought to refer in particular to cases in which the adult child suffers from a disability. There may, of course, be other types of special circumstance, but it is likely to be very rare for a claim to be allowed on this basis.

In short, the law generally considers that a parent’s financial obligations towards their child cease when the child reaches the age of 18 or, if the child is then still financially dependent upon them, when the child is no longer dependent. The child will usually be no longer dependent when they finish education, unless they suffer from a disability, in which case the dependency could be for life.

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If you are, or may be, involved in making an application for maintenance or financial provision for a child then you should seek expert legal advice. We can find you an expert that works with you on our digital platform. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe offers a modern, agile and compassionate approach to family law, giving you a helping hand when you need it and guiding you through the complexities of this difficult and stressful area. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

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