A dependent adult child is an unmarried adult who cannot support him/herself as a result of a physical or mental incapacity that began before the age of 18. In Florida, parents have a legal obligation to support their dependent adult child. It would seem unnecessary to pass a law to compel parents to take care of their dependant adult child- but it turns out to be necessary after all.
The bill grew out of a situation involving the Miami father of a 27-year-old Down syndrome child who refused to support her. A lawsuit against the father was filed in 2019 and the circuit court dismissed the case. The court ordered the child to pay her father’s legal fees because it was determined to be a frivolous lawsuit. An appeals court determined the lower court had erred in 2020, however.
“This codifies the law so cases like this don’t happen,” said a spokesperson for the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. “This gives courts a clear guideline in determining if and when to award such support.”
WHAT IF THE PARENT REFUSES?
If a parent fails to do so, a lawsuit to establish support may be filed by:
The dependent adult child
His/her agent under a power of attorney
A parent or other person on behalf of the child
Or the dependent adult child’s guardian.
This lawsuit may only be filed after the dependent adult child has reached the age of 17 years and 6 months.
HOW IS SUPPORT CALCULATED?
Support ordered by the court after the dependent adult child reaches 18 may only be paid only to the child, an agent with a power of attorney, a court-appointed guardian, or assigned to a special needs trust.
The amount of support that parents will be required to pay to support a dependent adult child is based on the needs of the child and the ability of the parents to pay. The court will consider the following:
The dependent adult child’s income
Any existing and future needs of the dependent adult child which are directly related to his or her mental or physical incapacity. That includes the substantial care and personal supervision directly required by or related to that
Whether a parent or other person pays for or will pay for the care or supervision of the dependent adult child or provides or will provide substantial care or personal supervision to the dependent adult
The financial resources available to each parent for the support, care, and supervision of the dependent adult
Any other financial resources or other resources of programs available for the support, care, and supervision of the dependent adult
The court may not order support that will cause ineligibility for any means-based government programs and benefits.
An experienced family law attorney can assist in obtaining support and further clarify the rights of a dependent adult child and secure support from obligated parents.
Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. has been representing families for over 40 years in Miami-Dade, Broward, and 25 years in Islamorada and Key West. Call our experienced Family Lawyers at 305-653-555 to review all your Divorce, Separation, Custody, Paternity, Domestic Violence, and of course Parenting options.
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