My adult children live at home can I ask my ex for maintenance? 


My adult children are living at home and the cost of living crisis is piling on pressure – can I ask my ex-husband for maintenance?

My ex-husband and I have been divorced for 12 years and have two children. When we split up, we agreed he would pay me child maintenance until they were 18. 

My children are now 18 and 22 and both live at home. When the pandemic started my eldest at university had to come home but was still paying fees and accommodation.

They are both currently at home full-time and with the cost-of-living crisis my expenses have gone up. I have tried talking to my ex about this but haven’t got anywhere. Do I have the right to ask for support from him given the current economic conditions?

Home again: As adult children move home household costs go up, can you re-open a divorce settlement to help meet the additional expenses?

 Alex Anastasiou, a partner in the family law team at Fletcher Day says: I am sorry to hear about the pressures the current cost of living crisis is putting on your family. 

I can imagine it’s a shock to have two fully grown children living at home when you expected them to be financially independent by now.

However, this is a rather technical area of the law. Without knowing how the clauses were drafted in your divorce settlement or when maintenance precisely ended, for the younger child it is difficult to say. 

However, what I can say is that if there is an application for maintenance payments to be brought it will have to be by one or both children.

If the order for payment expires after the child’s 18 birthday, then unfortunately neither the parent nor child will be able to bring an application once the child has attained the age of 18.

Sometimes divorce settlements include child payments for tertiary education, or these agreements can be added later if both parties agree. However, these can only be amended before the agreement comes to an end.

In your case this would be ahead of the children’s eighteenth birthdays. Some arrangements include the provision of funding to cover a degree with a gap year. 

Usually, tuition fees, rent, and potentially a modest living allowance can be allowed for, but that will depend on the discretion of the judge on what they deem would be fair given the circumstances.

If your children wanted to bring an application themselves then they would require their own professional advice and it would be an application to both your ex-husband and you as both parents have an obligation of care.

However, parents are usually involved in an application for a change and a professional adviser’s role is usually with them when they obtain a financial order or funding order or obtained and variation before the 18th birthday, but it must be justifiable.

As both your children are now over 18 I’m afraid your best option is to approach your ex personally to ask if he can help with your costs.

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