When fathers feel the pain of childbirth – father ordered to pay $14,000 in costs to mother for birth of child

Section 67B of the Family Law Act provides the father of a child who is not married to the child’s mother is 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 expenses in relation to the pregnancy and birth.

The maintenance provision is applicable to working mothers. The maintenance period begins when a mother is told by her doctor that she is to stop working due to medical issues related to her pregnancy, or otherwise 2 months before the child is born. The maintenance period ends 3 months after the child is born.

When the Court will make an order for a father to contribute

The Court will only make an order for a father to make a financial contribution where it is appropriate in the circumstances. The Court will consider:
• The income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of the mother and father of the child;
• Commitments of each of those persons that are necessary to enable the person to support themselves or any other child or another person that the person has a duty to maintain; and
• Any special circumstances which, if not taken into account in the particular case, would result in injustice or undue hardship to any person.

What the Court can order a father pay

The Court can order a father make a lump sum payment to the mother or order the payment of a weekly, monthly or periodic amount.

Abrahams and Simm [2014]

In the case of Abrahams and Simm [2014] decided earlier this year, Judge Neville heard a child maintenance application where the mother sought $27,061 made up of $15,610 for childbirth maintenance and $11,451 for reasonable medical expenses. The father sought that he pay the mother $7,000 and she pay his costs of the application.

The Court considered what ‘reasonable medical expenses’ includes. Judge Neville found that a number of the medical expenses the mother sought to claim where in his view not ‘reasonable’ for example he would not include her claim for all of her private health insurance cover, the costs of a Doula birthing partner or a settling swing.

The father submitted that he should not have to bear all the costs and expense claimed but only half, which Judge Neville accepted.

Taking into account the relevant financial circumstances of the parties Judge Neville ordered the father to pay to the mother $7,000 for maintenance and a further $7,000 for her reasonable medical expenses.

If you would like to read the entire decision, please see: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCCA/2014/67.html

Time limits

Mothers can make an application to the court for related childbirth expenses whilst they are pregnant or otherwise 12 months after the birth. There are circumstances where an application can be made out of time however leave of the court must first be obtained.

If you would like advice on whether you can make an application for childbirth maintenance or payment of expenses, or need advice on what you may be required to pay, please contact the McLaughlins on (07) 5591 5099 to make an appointment with one of our experienced family lawyers today.