Can the mother claim maintenance from the father of the child?

A mother is entitled to financial support from the father to help with maintenance during the childbirth period. This includes expenses relating to the pregnancy and the child’s birth. It also includes any private health, health Care card or Medicare rebates, as long as the expenses are reasonable out-of-pocket expenses.

What can the mother claim?

  • Childbirth maintenance

Maintenance is a financial payment to cover reasonable living expenses. A mother is entitled to childbirth maintenance for 2 months before childbirth and until 3 months after the child is born.

This period may be extended if the mother works in paid employment and a doctor advises her to stop working due to medical reasons related to the pregnancy more than 2 months before the due date. In such a case she is entitled to maintenance from the day that she stops working.

  • Living expenses

The mother may be entitled to reasonable living expenses for the childbirth period, including rent, electricity, food, telephone, gas and household supplies.

  • Maternity clothing for the 2 months before the child is born.
  • Medical expenses

Reasonable out-of-pocket expenses may include medical, surgical, dental, diagnostic, hospital, nursing, pharmaceutical and physiotherapy.

How can you claim?

The mother must file an application at the Family Law court within 12 months of the child’s birth. If you want to file a claim after the 12 month period you need to apply for leave (approval) by the Court first.

To succeed with a claim the mother must provide a detailed list of the expenses and receipts to prove these expenses. The Court will only consider reasonable expenses relating to the childbirth period.

What will the Court consider before making an order?

  • Firstly the Court will consider the income, earning capacity, property and financial situation of both the mother and the father. Any private maternity benefits that the mother is entitled to will also be considered.
  • The Court will not however take into account any means tested Centrelink benefits that you may receive. These include the “baby bonus”, newborn upfront payment and supplement, paid parental leave and/or pension.
  • The Court will also consider the financial commitments that each parent has to enable them to support themselves and other dependents.

Get legal assistance

If you need to claim childbirth expenses speak to a family lawyer or contact your Legal Aid Office for assistance. If you qualify, the Legal Aid office will provide free information and advice. Take note that private maternity leave payments or government-funded paid parental leave entitlements might mean that you are not entitled to a grant of legal assistance.

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