This summer, lawmakers drafted a proposal for a new bill in an effort to help expecting mothers. They named it the Unborn Child Support Act, and it would essentially give women the right to collect child support while they are pregnant, starting from the month of conception.
Each state manages the child support system for their area and supervises any issues like determining paternity and collecting child support. The Unborn Child Support Act would amend the Social Security Act and was introduced in the House and Senate on July 13. For a mother to move forward with requesting child support for her unborn child, a doctor would need to verify the date of conception and require a paternity test with consent of the mother, as long as there is no risk to the unborn baby.
In a standard child support case, both parents are typically able to come to an agreement on the amount of support. If parents cannot agree, then the court uses several factors to determine the amount of support the non-custodial parent should pay, including the:
- Child’s needs
- Needs of the custodial parent
- Child’s accustomed standard of living
- Non-custodial parent’s ability to pay
When it comes to determining unborn children’s support, it is a little less clear what elements would be factored in, considering the child itself does not have any needs quite yet and is not accustomed to any standard of living.
However, there is a lot of public back and forth on whether or not this bill would ultimately be helpful.
How the Unborn Child Support Act could help mothers
The Unborn Child Support Act could be extremely beneficial to expecting mothers in helping prepare and care for the baby before he or she even arrives:
Preparing for the baby’s essentials
Instead of waiting until giving birth in order to file for child support, the Unborn Child Support Act would give expecting mothers the ability to file for support early into their pregnancy. The bill would also allow them to retroactively collect support, starting from the month they became pregnant, as determined by a doctor. For struggling expecting mothers, this bill could be life-changing. Collecting child support before the baby is born would give them the ability to prepare. The bare necessities like diapers, clothes, and furniture, like a bassinet or crib, are expensive—and many mothers do not have enough money to afford them, especially if the baby’s father is not around to share the cost.
Helping with childcare
If the expectant mother is no longer with the baby’s father, she likely will have to take time off of work and then go back soon after the baby is born. Because of that, she will need to set up proper childcare. Knowing exactly how much money is coming in each month will help her select the best option, and potentially put down a deposit for daycare before the baby is born. This could relieve so much stress, which is harmful to both mother and child, throughout the pregnancy.
Is the law “fair” to fathers?
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. But the Unborn Child Support Act could create challenges for now-expecting fathers, too. With standard child support cases, fathers have time to basically “get their act together” if they are not financially able to support their child right away. For those with less financially secure jobs, the penalties for non-payment – wage garnishment, contempt of court, suspended driver’s license, even potential jail time – can cause serious harm, making it even more difficult to care for their children.
All of this assumes, of course, that paternity is established immediately. Men who doubt paternity can request a test (there’s a noninvasive one that can be performed at eight weeks), but they should know that if the test affirms they are the fathers, the mothers will be entitled to back payments for child support for those eight weeks. These tests can be expensive, too – and the bill is not clear on who would have to pay for the test. What the bill does say is that the child cannot be tested for paternity without the mother’s consent.
Child custody cases are rarely smooth sailing, and fighting for child support on top of it causes an uproar of emotions. If a mother wants unborn child support immediately and even goes as far as asking for payment from the month of conception, their parenting journey together can have a rocky start.
And when both parties are upset, situations can turn hostile quickly. Both the mother and father will need to create a healthy co-parenting relationship since they will be raising their child together for at least 18 years, but usually significantly longer. A child will likely pick up on a parents’ hostile relationship at some point, and it can ultimately lead to various emotional and behavioral issues for them later on.
Do you need help filing for child support or fighting against excessive child support? If so, you need the experience of a Charlotte family law attorney on your side. The compassionate team at Epperson Law Group, PLLC, fights to get you the outcome you’re looking for. Call our office at 704-321-0031, or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment today. You can schedule an appointment at any of our offices in Charlotte, Weddington, Concord, or Boone.