The maintenance of the adult child: until when is it due?
It is well known that it is incumbent on each parent the duty to maintain the offspring, to provide for their interests and for their formation. Reasonable questions, however, may arise for the parent at the moment in which the child, meanwhile grown up, continues to perceive the maintenance. In other words, how long is the right of the adult child to be maintained or, more precisely, when does the right of the adult child to be maintained end?
The codicistic legislation comes to our aid, in particular art. 337 septies, entitled “Provisions in favor of adult children”, provides for the possibility for the judge to place at the expense of one of the two parents (in the separation and / or divorce proceedings in general the spouse not entrusted with the offspring) a check maintenance periodic in favor of the adult child, provided, however, that the child is not economically independent.
The allowance thus set must be paid directly into the hands of the adult child, unless the judge considers it more appropriate, for greater protection of the adult, to have it paid into other hands.
But what happens when the child, of age, reaches economic independence?
The obliged spouse can ask the judge for a revision of the provision adopted, according to the provisions of art. 710 of the civil code, bearing the obligation of achieving the same economic independence. The probative conduct also includes the inert and negligent conduct of adult children, the famous ‘big babies’, that is those who demonstrate a total lack of interest in the search for economic independence, which is why the obliged spouse can well be exempt from the fulfillment of his own maintenance obligation (see example: Civil Court of Cassation no. 7970/2013; Civil Court of Cassation no. 4765/2002; Civil Court of Cassation no. 1830/2011).
The evidence provided must in any case be assessed by the judge on a case-by-case basis, since it is impossible to establish precise and objective criteria to which to relate and confront to verify the effective economic independence of the adult.
Thus there will be hypotheses in which the child who refused to work at his father’s company (Civil Court No. 2236/2014) or the child who holds a multi-year specialist training contract (Cass. Civil No. 11414/2014), or the son who obtained a fixed-term employment contract (Trib. Modena, 27.01.2011); at the same time there will be hypotheses in which, on the other hand, the adult child is granted the right to maintenance as in the case in which the child has opposed refused to be an agricultural laborer to undertake artistic studies (Civil Court No. 261/2010), found only a job as an apprentice (Civil Court of Law n. 12309/2010).
A particular and more sensitive protection is provided by the legislator for adult children who are disabled, in favor of whom the provisions set for the minor children are applied, provided for by the articles 337 bis ss. c.c., obviously more favorable than those mentioned above.
To sum up, therefore, for the purposes of reviewing the maintenance allowance in favor of the adult child, it is not sufficient that the child has reached the age of majority or that he has contracted marriage, but economic independence must be proven.
In conclusion, the only parameter to which one can refer to know if and when one’s child will no longer have the right to receive the periodic maintenance allowance is to be found in the economic conditions of the same; in other words: he will have the right to be maintained until he has achieved economic self-sufficiency, despite his efforts to do so. The burdened parent will therefore have the right to request authorization to cease the aforementioned payment if his / her child for fault and / or laziness has not yet become independent. Without prejudice to the fact that the parent, if he does not intend to pay the maintenance allowance in favor of the adult child, will never be able to act unilaterally but will necessarily have to contact the judicial authority to arrange for a review, and possibly revocation , of the provision (Civil Court of Cassation No. 13184/2011).