Parenting is the most common option Australian women choose when they find out they are pregnant unexpectedly ( see Marie Stopes International Australia 'What Women Want When Faced With An Unplanned Pregnancy'). Some women may find this an easy decision - you may have always wanted children, or be in a space in your life where it feels like the time is right. Other women find this choice more difficult. There is no right or wrong way to decide on which unplanned pregnancy option to choose.
It is estimated that around half of Australian women have had an unplanned pregnancy, so you are not alone in this experience. If you are thinking about continuing the pregnancy and becoming a parent (or becoming a parent again), there may be several factors influencing your decision. You may be wondering about what financial support is available for you, what a baby might mean for your lifestyle or your career or study ambitions, or how another baby might impact on your children and/or partner. Your decision might also be impacted by your feelings and values about the other pregnancy options available to you.
Whatever the factors impacting on your decision, your options if you choose to parent are much more open than they were even a generation ago. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Single parenting is much less stigmatised now than in the past, and blended families are also common. If you feel strongly that you would like to continue this pregnancy but are concerned about the emotional or financial supports that may be available to you, we can help you with this information.
It is important to think ahead about the costs associated with raising a child and how you can meet these costs. Having a new family member may impact on your income from work, reducing working hours, requiring child care, living on a single wage and superannuation.
Your general day-to-day living expenses will also change, including food bills, clothing, and education costs. If you don't currently keep track of your dollars in and bills out start writing these down and try mapping out a budget. Understanding Money is a government website with lots of tips.
If you are not living with the man involved in the pregnancy you are entitled to Child Support. Child Support is a payment made to the parent who is responsible for the ongoing daily care of the child by the other parent. Many parents arrange how much is to be paid and when between themselves.
If you wish to claim more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit you will need to work with the Child Support Agency for an income assessment. To get an understanding of your entitlements or to discuss your situation contact the Child Support Agency.
Where paternity is being disputed the Family Court can order DNA testing and make a declaration of parentage for child support purposes.
Centrelink provides payments to parents in many different circumstances for a variety to reasons. For more information on the assistance you may be entitled to it is best to speak to someone from Centrelink's Family Assistance Office.
From 1 January 2011, 18 weeks Paid Parental Leave is available in Australia. To be eligible you must have worked 10/13 months prior to the birth for at least 330 hours. Claims can be lodged up to three months prior to the birth.
If you have not been working you may be eligible to receive the Baby Bonus. This payment is made over 13 fortnightly installments.
You cannot claim both Paid Parental Leave and the Baby Bonus at the same time except in the case of multiple births.
Further support payments for children include: Family Tax Benefits A and B, Immunisation Allowance, Parenting Payment, and Child Care Benefit. Austudy, Youth Allowance, and Newstart Allowance all have higher rates for people with dependent children.
These payments are subject to residency requirements and income tests.