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When Are Maryland Parents Required to Support Adult Children?


In the State of Maryland, a parent’s child support and care duties typically involve minor children under the age of 18 years old. At that point, children reach adulthood and are responsible for supporting themselves. In certain cases, however, Maryland law requires a parent to support their children into adulthood. Referred to as adult destitute children, these individuals require parental support even after they reach 18 years old.

What is an Adult Destitute Child?

The definition of an adult destitute child appears under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 13-101. This section establishes a two-prong test for determining whether an individual qualifies as an adult destitute child. An individual is considered an adult destitute child if they:

  • Lack any reasonable means of subsistence or survival; and
  • Demonstrate an inability to be self-sufficient, due to physical or mental disability.

Assuming an individual meets both of the requirements above, they qualify as an adult destitute child and can qualify for parental support.

How Does an Adult Destitute Child Request Support?

An adult destitute child may request support from a parent under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 13-103. This section requires the adult destitute child to file a complaint with the State’s Attorney’s Office. An individual must submit this complaint under oath and in writing as well as state that:

  • The individual is an adult destitute child;
  • A parent of the individual earns sufficient income to provide support, such as care, clothing, food, and shelter; and
  • That parent neglects or refuses to provide support.

Upon receipt of a valid complaint, the State’s Attorney’s Office conducts an investigation to evaluate whether the individual deserves support as an adult destitute child.

When Does Support of an Adult Destitute Child End?

The conditions for terminating or ending adult destitute child support appear under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 13-109. This section enables the Maryland courts to release a parent from supporting an adult destitute child if:

  • The adult destitute child dies;
  • The parent dies;
  • The adult destitute child becomes self-sufficient; or
  • The parent no longer earns sufficient income to support the adult destitute child.

Outside of the circumstances listed above, there is not a defined endpoint for the support of adult destitute children.

What Happens if a Parent Fails to Support an Adult Destitute Child?

The punishment for failing to support an adult destitute child appears under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 13-102. When a parent is required to support an adult destitute child, they must provide adequate care, clothing, food, and shelter.

Failing to provide adequate support to an adult destitute child is a misdemeanor offense. Upon conviction, the parent is potentially subject to a maximum of one year in prison and criminal fines up to $1,000.

Let Us Help You Today

If you need legal help with child support or other aspects of Maryland family law, it can be exceedingly constructive to consult with a seasoned family law attorney. The Bel Air child support attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including child support. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.


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