In recent years, there has been a stark rise in “millennials” flocking back to their parents’ home after graduation. Most commonly, these 20-somethings are seeking refuge from a tough job market and massive student loans. Critics argue that parents make living at home all too easy when they fail to charge rent.
In divorce cases where spousal support is an issue, these scenarios are becoming increasingly pertinent as we see more adult children returning home. Typically the parent living with the adult child sees no reason her spousal support should be impacted if the child lives there. The other spouse, however, thinks some contribution is reasonable. After all, the “child” is older than 18 and emancipated. He will argue that paying spousal support is effectively the same as paying child support.
The trend in these cases, based on our trial court experience, has been the court will consider the adult child’s presence in the home and expect expenses can be defrayed to some extent. Although not a certainty, it will may very well influence the amount of spousal support awarded. Under Illinois maintenance law, 750 ILCS 5/504, the Court is able to consider all sources of income and any factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable. If a spouse receives rent from the child, that is considered income. If the spouse does not receive rent, the Court will, ask “why not?” Under either scenario, the spouse living with the child could be adversely affected.
There is no general rule that an adult child must contribute a certain amount toward rent. In some situations it may not be reasonable. The parent may “charge” the child by having him or her do household chores or just pay one bill. That may be the best way to not increase the spouse’s income but demonstrate the child is not living there without any contribution.