Legal Eagle Column: Can I claim maintenance for my adult child?

Iain MacAskill, Family Law Solicitor at Neves Solicitors explains.

I am often asked if it is possible to claim maintenance for an adult child. Below I explain the circumstances in which a claim could be made to the Family Court.

No order shall be made for a child who has attained the age of 18. However, if that child remains in full time education – not including university education but for school or college – maintenance provision may continue until the child finishes full time education.

Where there are ‘special circumstances’, the Court may make an order for ongoing child maintenance, even though the child is no longer in full time education.

‘Special circumstances’ can continue beyond the age of 18 and may include physical or other disability.

The expenses attributed to the child’s disability should be taken into account. In practice most child maintenance is now paid as a result of either agreement between the parents, or an assessment by the Child Maintenance Service.

It is unusual for the Family Court to make a child maintenance award. However, maintenance for a child who is no longer in full time education but for whom there are ‘special circumstances’ is a claim which would be made to the Court.

Where parents have never been married to each other, an adult child in education or training (not including university) retains a right to child maintenance as does a child where ‘special circumstances’ exist such as a disability.

The rules concerning child maintenance where the parents have been married are set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 at Section 29.

As the ‘child’ is likely to be over 18, the child will be the applicant unless he or she does not have the mental capacity to handle the case themselves.

In which case a Next Friend (an individual who acts on behalf of another individual who does not have the legal capacity to act on his or her own behalf) may be appointed to manage the case on their behalf.

Want to find out how Neves can help you? Contact Iain MacAskill on 01908 304560 or email

This feature was published in the October 2019 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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