Yes, You Can Be Ordered To Provide For Adult Destitute Children

Many divorced parents heave sighs of relief when their children turn 18, because it generally means they can stop making child support payments. However, you shouldn't put away the checkbook just yet. In some circumstances, you may be required to continue providing financial support to a child if the court determines he or she is destitute. Here's what you need to know to prepare yourself for this eventuality.

Adult Destitute Child Factors

The courts look at several factors when determining a parents' financial obligation to their adult children:

  • The child's mental or physical disabilities
  • When the disability occurred
  • The child's capacity to earn or obtain income
  • Whether the income is sufficient to cover the child's reasonable living expenses

Although the rules vary from state to state, in general, only adult children who are mentally or physically incapacitated are eligible for extended support. Additionally, that incapacitation typically must have occurred before the child reached the age of majority. Be aware, though, that the state may take certain liberties with this cutoff point.

For instance, the age of majority in Indiana is 18. However, a parent must continue paying support until the child is 19. If your child becomes disabled between age 18 and 19, then you may be required to continue paying until the child is no longer incapacitated or can support his or herself.

Lastly, most states don't require adult kids to have absolutely no money to qualify for parental support. The only qualification is the income your child receives (or has the capacity to earn) must be less than his or her reasonable living expenses. If your child earns $1,000 per month working at the library, he or she may still be eligible for financial help from you if his or her living expenses amount to $1,500.

The important thing to note here is the income must be readily available to the child at the time the support case is heard. For instance, if the child doesn't gain access to a trust fund until age 25, the court won't count that asset towards his or her income when determining whether the child is destitute or not.

Planning for the Future

If you have separated from your spouse (or in the process of doing so), it's critical you discuss this issue with an attorney if you have a child who is mentally or physically disabled and may have a difficult time providing for him or herself. A family lawyer can also provide advice and assistance if your ex-spouse is requesting you continue paying support for a child you think is fully capable of financially caring for his or herself. The attorney can let you know what to do to obtain the ideal outcome for your situation. For instance, the lawyer may recommend you set up a trust fund for your child's long-term care or help you hire an occupational expert who can testify about your child's earning capabilities.

For more information about this issue, contact a lawyer at a law office like Fleishman Law Office SC.