InsightsInsight - Family and Divorce - POSTED: June 25 2021
Do adult children living at home have rights over the house in a divorce?
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Many older children end up living at home with their parents for a number of different reasons.
With house prices continuing to increase in recent years, we are seeing more and more adult children remaining at home with their parents because they are unable to afford to rent or are saving money for a deposit on their first home.
Other children never left home because of the security it provides. Approximately 42% of young adults aged between 15 and 34 lived with their parents in the UK in 2020, compared with 36% in 1996.
Our Family team often support couples who sadly decide to divorce. It is worth highlighting that in situations where children over 18 are still living in the family home can sometimes be problematic in the context of divorce, as the rights of an adult child are extremely limited.
A court will recognise that the adult children continue to be dependent if they remain in education. However, beyond that their needs are unlikely to be taken into account when considering how their parents’ overall assets should be redistributed. This is because the court expects that adult children have the ability to earn an income to support themselves.
Further, the law does not require parents to continue to provide a home for their children once they leave education. This may seem harsh, particularly given the current strain on the job market because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is because the court must focus on ensuring the needs of the parties are met. This includes the needs of any underage children, over and above adult children, particularly where there are limited assets available to be redistributed.
How can I address my spouse on my concerns for my adult children?
As the court will not provide for any adult children in the instance of divorce, arrangements to house adult children will need to be agreed between the parents themselves either directly or with the assistance of family law solicitors. Solicitors may assist by engaging parties’ in negotiations round a table or in correspondence.
Alternatively, divorcing couples may consider attending mediation, a process that allows discussions to take place with a trained mediator who will guide the parties to reaching an agreement. They will ensure both parties’ concerns are heard in the process.
The couple may agree that the needs of their adult children will be met by one or both of them if the child is unable to house themselves. In this case, consideration would need to be given to ensure when choosing a property that there is sufficient space.
What are the exceptions?
Only in unique specific circumstances does the law provide for parents’ ongoing obligations to meet the needs of their adult children, such as where an adult child has a disability and is not able to live independently.
In such special circumstances the court will consider their needs and will ensure that adequate provision is made where possible.
The court may therefore give consideration to making a maintenance order to continue beyond the child’s eighteenth birthday or a lump sum order so that the parent with care of the adult child in question can meet capital expenditure if, for example, any special equipment is required.
Receiving early legal advice so that you can understand and explore your options is essential.
If you need guidance, please get in touch with one of our friendly team today. You can call us on 01622 690691 or book a fixed fee virtual appointment.
This content is correct at time of publication
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