Family Law... A "Lying-In" Learning Journey

Bernard Thibault – November 2016

What the heck are “lying-in expenses“!?  Up until last week, I had no idea.  I know what you are thinking: “Why is this lawyer admitting this?”  Doing it online, on his firm’s website, in a blog post which is meant to inform but also drum up business.  Well, I think it is good to be honest about these things.  It is difficult to admit when you do not know something about the law … but part of being a good lawyer is finding the answer to something you do not know.

This happened to me recently in a meeting with a potential new client.  She says, “What about lying-in expenses?”  My stomach drops.  She proceeds to tell me that a gentleman who works at the Court told her about this.  I reluctantly tell her that I have never heard about it, but quickly mention that I will be sure to find out.  I find it almost immediately in the Maintenance and Custody Act, a central piece of legislation for family lawyers in Nova Scotia:

Maintenance for child of unmarried parents

11        (1)        Upon application during the pregnancy of a single woman or after a single woman gives birth to a child, or at any adjournment thereof, a court may order the possible father or the single woman or both of them to pay

(a)        towards the expenses incidental to the lying‑in, maintenance of the mother during lying‑in and expenses of the birth of the child;

I looked to the case law for some clarification as to what theses expenses are.  My feelings of embarrassment lessened somewhat when I learned that there were very few cases which reported on this type of relief in Nova Scotia.  There are only a handful which address this issue directly and they are dated.  Even less cases itemize what lying-in expenses can cover; cases which were decided over twenty years ago[1].

Preparing for the birth of a baby can be quite expensive, I know from personal experience; I have two.  I cringe at the thought of handing over my credit card for items like strollers, car seats, cribs – the list goes on, and so does the money.  However, I am lucky, as I live in a two-income household.  I can only imagine the difficulty this poses for households with one parent and consequently, one income.  It is not surprising then that the legislature has provided a means to obtain this much-needed support.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of items which have been approved under the claim of lying-in expenses:

It is not clear exactly where the list ends, but it could also include hospital bills, medical expenses and midwives’ fees, or any expenses reasonably necessary in connection with the birth of the baby.  The court will likely order the other parent to contribute half of the expenses.  So, if you are single and expecting, be sure to keep track of your expenses in preparation for bringing your little guy or girl home.  Ask for help from the other parent and if that does not work, come speak to someone here at MDW Law.

In the meantime, I will keep reading.

[1] R.A.B. v. W.E.J., [1995] N.S.J. No. 611; K.A.W. v. K.P.D., [1989] N.S.J. No. 486


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