Leaders in Family and Child Support law

Leaders in Family and Child Support law
Jack Hayes

Robert McHugh and Simon Bacon first met during a case opposed to one another in court.

While the pair operate separate firms, Mr McHugh under his own name at 446 William St, West Melbourne, and Mr Bacon as managing director of Manby & Scott Child Support Lawyers at Normanby Chambers, 430 Little Collins St, Melbourne, they have formed a partnership built on symbiotic referral of cases and long-standing respect.

Mr McHugh, a senior accredited family law specialist, and Mr Bacon, one of the country’s eminent practitioners in child support law, have nearly 80 years of combined experience representing and supporting families in some of their most challenging times.

Robert A. McHugh, Barrister and Solicitor

With a Master’s in law and an accredited family law specialist, mediator and arbitrator with the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators, Mr McHugh is one of Melbourne’s leading practitioners in his field.

In what is often an incredibly “complex and frightening” area of law, Mr McHugh provides sound and reliable advice on matters, including property settlements, Binding Financial Agreements (BFA), pre-nuptial agreements, parenting rights, divorce, and de facto relationships.


“Family law is a very complex area, it’s often frightening for people, but it’s incredibly important to have the right support around people,” Mr McHugh said.


He added that people were increasingly seeking pre-nuptial or pre-cohabitation agreements known in Australia as BFAs which set out exactly how property and finances will be divided in the event of a relationship breakdown. The BFAs are designed to oust the jurisdiction of the Family Court and to thereby avoid the cost and stress of having the matter dealt with by a judge.

Mr McHugh is a firm believer in seeking to resolve family law disputes, be they over children, property, or finances, by negotiation and mediation and to avoid having to issue legal proceedings unless the circumstances require it.

“I understand that people are anxious about lawyers and how much it could cost them but I’m always up front about what a matter may cost or keeping them advised as to what an ongoing matter is costing them.”

Mr McHugh offers a free first consultation.

Manby & Scott

As a pioneer of child support law in Australia, Mr Bacon’s “niche” expertise has earned a reputation and client base that stretches across the country.

It’s an area of law, he admits, that is unknown to many and “something that practitioners and even judges struggle to understand”.

“When I came into the law in 1989, child support law changed fundamentally. Bob Hawke stood up and said, ‘by 1990 no Australian child will live in poverty.’ What he was referring to is fundamental changes in child maintenance law,” Mr Bacon said.


I found it very interesting, and I found that few lawyers knew about it, and I could run circles around them in court because of it. I have really enjoyed it and spent my whole working career doing it.


“Child support law covers various areas. Sometimes it covers paternity disputes, where a woman gives birth to a child and alleges a man is the father, and he says he isn’t.”

“Other times there are cases involving paternity testing where the parentage of the child is in dispute. Often a woman will say a man is the father of her child and he has questions about that. The law now can order the parties to participate in DNA parentage testing which is absolutely definitive.”

According to Mr Bacon, other typical cases are disputes in the amount of child support that should be paid by a parent, as well as overseas child support matters, enforcement of child support debts, child support stay orders and the preparation of private child support agreements.

Manby & Scott are recognised as a leading authority among the small group of child support lawyers in Australia. •


Caption: Robert McHugh (left) and Simon Bacon (right), Normanby Chambers, Little Collins St.

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