St. Mary's Law Journal


Dan R. Price


In 1989, the Texas legislature modified the Texas Family Code by relaxing the criteria necessary to allow awards of support to adult disabled children. Texas has historically recognized, through both state and case law, that parents have both a moral and legal obligation to support minor unemancipated children, but only until the age of majority. An exception to the limitation of parental support only until the age of majority is the “disability exception.” Many jurisdictions recognize that when a minor child suffers from a disability and is incapable or unable to take care of themselves, parental support may extend past the age of majority—eighteen years old—but only if certain requirements are met. In Texas, prior to amendment, a court could award support when both the child’s disability arises and the submission motioning for support is filed prior to the child reaching the age of majority. If either disability or filing occurs after the age of majority, disabled children would be unable to seek awards of support beyond the age of majority. However, legislative amendments allow the filing of motions for support at any time, even if the child is past the age of majority. The statutory revision requires only that the disability must have either existed or was known prior to the age of majority. Where the condition or ailment was known during minority, but manifestations of the illness and actual disability occur only after the age majority no longer precludes awards of support. A disabled adult child may now receive indefinite court ordered child support when they are unable to care for themselves and require substantial supervision or care. Suit may initiate at any time so long as the child’s disability exists or is known to exist prior to the child’s eighteenth birthday.


St. Mary's University School of Law