Can the Court Order Time Sharing for an Adult Child Who is Disabled?

The short answer is, no. The First District Court of Appeal recently addressed this issue in Hardman v. Koslowski. In this case, the parties had a child who was disabled and had mental and physical incapacities. The child was over the age of 18. The Father of the child sought an order from the court allowing him additional timesharing after the child turned 18, because of his disability. The trial court agreed with the Father and ordered timesharing. The appellate court did not agree with the trial court’s ruling and over turned it.

The appellate court held that the trial court no longer had jurisdiction to enter a time sharing order after the child turned 18. First, “subject matter jurisdiction -- the ‘power of the trial court to deal with a class of cases to which a particular case belongs' -- is conferred upon a court by constitution or by statute.” It “cannot be created by waiver, acquiescence, or agreement of the parties, or by error or inadvertence of the parties or their counsel, or by the exercise of power by the court; it is a power that arises solely by virtue of law. Second, a lack of subject matter jurisdiction renders a judgment void, “and a void judgment can be attacked at any time, even collaterally.” In the present case, the trial court had the power to order visitation with Alexander only while he was a minor. The trial court could not exercise that jurisdiction once Alexander reached majority. There is no exception to this rule for children who are disabled.

However, there does exist an exception for child support payments for a disabled child after the child reaches majority. The trial court does have the jurisdiction to order the Father to continue to pay child support for the disabled child if it finds that the child is mentally or physically incapacitated. If you have questions regarding time sharing or child support for your adult child, contact your expert family law attorney to discuss your rights and responsibilities further.

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