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Parental Support for Adult Destitute Children in Maryland


On the topic of child support, almost everyone thinks about minor children. After all, minor children are not able to earn a living or provide for themselves. Consequently, a parent, guardian or custodian must account for the minor child’s well-being. If the child’s parent divorce, then the courts determine not only custody of the children, but also each parent’s financial obligations of support.

But in certain cases, Maryland law also requires a parent to care for their adult children. If an adult child is impaired or otherwise incapable of supporting themselves, then their parent(s) must continue to provide reasonable support. These children are referred to as destitute adult children under Maryland law.

What is the Definition of a Destitute Adult Child?

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 13–101 outlines the definition of a destitute adult child. This term applies to an adult child who:

  • Is not capable self-support or subsistence at present; and
  • Will not be capable of self-support or subsistence in the future, due to mental or physical impairment.

What are the Duties of a Parent to a Destitute Adult Child?

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 13–102 provides an overview of the required parent duties to a destitute adult child. If a parent has sufficient earning capacity and financial means, then they must provide support to any of their destitute adult children. Under Section 13-102, the term support includes:

  • Care;
  • Clothing;
  • Food; and
  • Shelter.

What are the Penalties for Failing to Support a Destitute Adult Child?

Section 13-102 also details the penalties for failing to support a destitute adult child. Any parent who is capable of providing support to their destitute adult child — and fails to do so — can face misdemeanor charges. The potential penalties include up to 12 months in prison and $1,000 in fines.

How Does a Court Order Support for a Destitute Adult Child?

Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 13–107, a court can order a parent to provide support to a destitute adult child. The court may order the parent to:

  • Pay support directly to the destitute adult child;
  • Pay support to a public agency that is caring for the adult destitute child; or
  • Purchase a state bond that will ensure compliance with any court orders.

How Does a Court Determine the Amount and Duration of Support?

Section 13-107 also outlines how a Maryland court determines the amount and duration of parent support for destitute adult children. In terms of the amount, the court must consider the financial circumstances of the parent and isolate a reasonable arrangement. In terms of duration, parental support continues until the destitute adult child dies or receives other forms of reasonable support.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you have legal questions about parental support for destitute adult children in Maryland, it can be particularly valuable to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, the attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 55 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.



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