Most people are aware that they may have rights to claim spousal and child support after separating from their spouse or partner. Claims may be made for spousal support where a party has a reasonable need for financial support and their former spouse or partner has the capacity to pay. Financial support for children of the marriage or relationship can either be arranged by agreement between the parents or assessed by the Child Support Agency.
However, it is not commonly known that a mother who is pregnant with a child may be able to claim financial support from the father of the child who is not married to the child’s mother for both herself and the child during pregnancy and in the immediate post-natal period. This may include, in addition to financial support for general living expenses of the mother and the child, claims for medical expenses associated with the birth and, in the unhappy event that either the mother or the child or both do not survive the birth, also for funeral expenses.
The Family Law Act 1975 provides that the father of a child who is not married to the child’s mother, is subject to some conditions, 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.
- The mother’s reasonable medical expenses in relation to the pregnancy and birth.
- If the mother dies and the death is as a result of the pregnancy or birth, the reasonable expenses of the mother’s funeral.
- If the child is still born, or dies and the death is related to the birth, the reasonable expenses of the child’s funeral.
*The “childbirth maintenance period” in relation to the birth of a child is the period that begins:
- If the mother is in paid employment and is advised by a doctor to stop working for medical reasons related to the pregnancy and the mother stops working after being so advised and more than two months before the child is due to be born- on the day she stops working.
- In any other case, on the day that is two months before the child is due to be born.
*The “child birth maintenance period” ends at the expiration of three months after the child is born.
In determining the contribution to be made by the father the Family Court must consider the financial circumstances of both mother and father and has broad powers after such consideration, to make such an order as is proper, including an urgent or interim order to pay financial support costs.
Time limits apply for applying to the Court for maintenance orders in this type of case. Applications can be made during the pregnancy of the mother and up to 12 months after the birth unless the Court grants leave (permission) for an application to be made beyond that time.
If you require advice or assistance in regard to any form of financial support for yourself or a child from a former partner or spouse whether during pregnancy or at any other time you should contact one of our experienced family law team members.