When a woman becomes pregnant and is neither married nor in a de facto relationship, legal issues can arise as to who is responsible for her support during the birthing period and then who is responsible for the financial support of the child after birth. Whilst a couple who are merely dating would not expect pregnancy to ensue from their relationship, regardless of whether that pregnancy was or was not anticipated there are legal and financial ramifications.
Many who find themselves in this situation may be unaware of their legal rights particularly the right of the mother to monetary support during pregnancy. The Family Law Act 1975 provides that a woman is entitled to contributions from the father for their maintenance and expenses during pregnancy.
Section 67B provides as follows:
‘The father of a child who is not married to the child’s mother is, subject to this Division, liable to make a proper contribution towards:
- the maintenance of the mother for the childbirth maintenance period in relation to the birth of the child; and
- the mother’s reasonable medical expenses in relation to the pregnancy and birth; and
- if the mother dies and the death is as a result of the pregnancy or birth, the reasonable expenses of the mother’s funeral; and
- if the child is stillborn, or dies and the death is related to the birth, the reasonable expenses of the child’s funeral.’
If you are pregnant or have recently given birth and require financial aid in relation to pregnancy, Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers can assist you in gaining financial assistance from the father.
Once the child has been born, Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers can also provide you with advice in relation to Child Support. Please refer to our blog on Child Support- INSERT HYPERLINK
Whilst this may seem unreasonable to those men who had not expected to become a father, the Court does consider the would be father’s financial circumstances before making an order to pay the woman during the child birth maintenance period. Pursuant to section 67C of the Act, the Court will consider the following:
- Income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of the father, mother and the child;
- Commitments of both the mother and the father that are necessary to enable them to support him or herself or any other child or person that they have a duty to maintain; and
- Any special circumstances.
Therefore, whilst the man is legally required to contribute to the pregnant woman’s maintenance and expenses relating to pregnancy and childbirth, the amount the man could be liable to pay cannot be more than he can reasonably afford.
If this situation applies to you or someone you know, Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers can assist by ensuring the Court takes into account the specific circumstances of the case when determining the rate of child birth maintenance to be paid and ensure it does not result in undue financial hardship.
If parentage is in dispute, Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers can also assist either parent in relation to the vexed issue of whether or not parentage should be contested and such aspects such the child’s parenting on the Birth Certificate etc. Please refer to our blog on parentage disputes for more information regarding this- INSERT HYPERLINK
The information in this blog does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by you. If you require advice specific to your situation, you must contact Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers for legal advice. The contents of this blog are relevant as at 6 October 2018. We recommend you obtain specific advice relevant to you and your family’s situation.