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Domestic violence and the exemption from seeking child support : providing safety or legitimizing ongoing poverty and fear
journal contributionposted on 2008-12-01, 00:00 authored by Rebecca PatrickRebecca Patrick, Kay Cook, Hayley MckenzieHayley Mckenzie
This article examines the experience of low-income women on welfare in Australia and the process of seeking child support from a violent ex-partner, contrasting this with research from the United States and the United Kingdom. Women in Australia who fear ongoing or renewed abuse as a result of seeking child support are eligible for an exemption. However, the exemption policy does not necessarily provide the intended protection of women and children from ongoing abuse and poverty. The exemption policy route also produces an unintended outcome whereby the perpetrators of violence are financially rewarded as they do not have to pay child support. These outcomes are shaped by a complex interaction of personal, cultural and structural forces that make the process of seeking child support for women who have experienced violence extremely problematic. The article demonstrates how in Australia, as in the US and UK policy contexts, the needs of women and their children are compromised by the details of policy specification and the way policies are implemented within the different systems.