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I’m pregnant and separated: Can I get financial support?

I’m pregnant and separated: Can I get financial support?

By Janelle Easom, Paralegal, Family Law

Are you an expecting single mother who is not married to the father of your unborn child? If yes, then the next piece of information may be relevant to you.

Section 67B and Section 69C of the Family Law Act 1975 allows expecting single mothers to apply to the Family Court of Western Australia to have the father of the unborn child provide financial support in the form of childbirth maintenance.

What is included?

The application before the Court needs to relate to the mother’s expenses and financial needs only. The expenses that can be included in the application are as follows:

  • The mother’s living costs such as:
    • rent, household bills, vehicle expenses and purchases for maternity clothes.
  • The birth of the child including:
    • doctor appointments, hospital visits and stays (not private health insurance), prenatal supplements and anaesthetist costs.

How long can I claim?

You can claim 2 months prior to the birth and up to 3 months after the birth of the baby. This is known as the “childbirth maintenance period”.  There are exceptions to this and they include situations where:

  • the mother is employed and has been advised by her treating doctor to stop work earlier than 7 months of her pregnancy due to complications in her pregnancy; and
  • the mother dies as a result of the pregnancy or birth or the child is stillborn or dies, then the father may be liable to make a proper contribution towards the child’s and/or mother’s funeral arrangements.

How to demonstrate your application has merit?

You would need to show you suffer financial hardship and you require assistance.  At the same time, you need to show that the father has capacity to pay the reasonable expenses you claim.  The Court considers the following supporting evidence when making its decision:

  • The parents’ income, earning capacity, financial resources and property.
  • The parents’ ongoing financial commitments necessary for that parent to continue to support and provide to any other person and / or child.
  • Any special circumstance which has not been taken into account which would result to an undue hardship to any person.

Generally, the Court will decide on the “proper contribution” to be paid to the mother. This is usually based upon a half share of all reasonable expenses (see Abrahams v Simms [2014] FCCA 67).

Time limits apply

There is a limitation period for the mother to claim for any childbirth maintenance.

The mother has up to 12 months after the baby’s birth to make an application to the Family Court.  If this has lapsed, the mother is required to seek leave from the Court to have her application heard.

If you would like to make an application or have any questions about childbirth maintenance, our experienced lawyers can provide tailored legal advice for your individual situation.

Please call our Family Law Team at CS Legal on 9476 4499 or submit an enquiry via our CONTACT US page.

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