California Code Says Parents of Certain Adult Children Must Pay Child Support

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East Bay family law attorney Gina M. Mariani cites California Family Code Section 3910, which holds parents responsible for their adult children in certain circumstances.

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Gina M. Mariani, an East Bay child support attorney, seeks to protect adult children who are unable to support themselves.

They are heart wrenching, especially when a parent refuses to acknowledge that their adult child is disabled and, moreover, legitimately unable to gain and maintain employment.

Many people think that once their kids are grown, they are no longer responsible for supporting their children financially. But Gina M. Mariani, an East Bay family law attorney, points to a California Family Code which holds parents accountable for their adult children, regardless of age, if a child is incapacitated from earning a living. Mariani feels it is vital for all parents to understand California Family Code Section 3910, especially if they have mentally, physically, or emotionally disabled offspring. She explains five things all parents should know about the code, and how it may affect their lives.

California Family Code Section 3910 specifically states: “The father and mother have an equal responsibility to maintain, to the extent of their ability, a child of whatever age who is incapacitated from earning a living and without sufficient means.” For adult children, according to this code, the child support amount is based upon the California Child Support Guidelines in the same manner as it is calculated for a minor child.

“I have had personal experience with these kinds of cases,” said Mariani, an Alameda child custody and child support attorney. “They are heart wrenching, especially when a parent refuses to acknowledge that their adult child is disabled and, moreover, legitimately unable to gain and maintain employment.”

Mariani notes that many people are simply unaware that this code exists, and explains five things about Code 3910 that she thinks every parent should know:

1)     Oftentimes, a formal evaluation by a vocational expert may be necessary to determine if a disability or some other condition renders the child incapacitated from earning a living. If determined in favor of the adult child, the father and mother are held to the same child support guidelines as if their child were a minor, even if the child is receiving Social Security benefits or some other form of financial aid.

2)     Parents of children who have special needs or children who have or disabilities, when dissolving a marriage, should be aware of this code because child support may stretch into the child's adult life.

3)     If a determination is made qualifying the child disabled, this does not mean that the code is automatically applied, because many adults with disabilities are gainfully employed. Adult children who qualify for support under the code often have severe physical, mental or emotional disabilities and are on a regular regime of visiting medical professionals and taking medications.

4)     Adult children who already receive Social Security or financial aid may still be awarded child support under Code 3910. Those payments do not automatically excuse the parent's child support obligation because the adult child could still be without sufficient means.

5)     The responsibility of the Court in these cases is very narrow. Mariani notes, “This area of the law is tricky because the Court can obligate a parent to pay child support but cannot make a determination about custody or compel the adult child to visit with the obligor parent.”

Mariani, a City of Alameda family law attorney, encourages individuals to consult with a family lawyer in order to better understand how California Family Code Section 3910 protects the wellbeing of adult children who may not be able to protect themselves, and what responsibilities it places on family members. Families who prepare in advance will be better equipped to handle future hardships, should they arise.

To consult with the Law Office of Gina M. Mariani regarding East Bay and Greater Bay Area family law services call (510) 629-4037, or stop by the office, located at 1325 High Street, Alameda CA 94501, to make an appointment.

About the Law Office of Gina M. Mariani
Gina M. Mariani is an Alameda family law attorney who represents families on legal issues that include divorce, paternity, guardianship, child visitation, restraining orders, probate cases and child support in the East Bay and throughout the Bay Area. Personable and friendly, Mariani makes it her business to prioritize on each family’s individual needs. She personally handles cases from start to finish, never handing a case off to an associate.

The Law Office of Gina M. Mariani also provides estate planning in Alameda County and beyond, helping families plan for the future and any unforeseen circumstances. Gina M. Mariani is now offering one-hour free consultations for new clients by appointment.

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