Child support

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See more resources on Child support in the AIFS library catalogue

Paying more or accepting less child support : parental compromises in CSA Private Collect.

Vnuk M, Smyth B and Aleema P
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 3 Oct 2020: 243-263
The previous article in this series investigated why some non-resident fathers pay more than their 'official' child support obligation, and why some resident mothers accept less than they entitled to. Data for 733 parents registered with the Child Support Agency, as part of a broader study conducted in 2008, found that that private arrangements are widespread, but also raised concerns about the role of coercion in private arrangements, with suggestions that some resident mothers are being pressured to take less child support and that some nonresident fathers are paying extra in order to have regular contact with their children. This follow-up article examined these reasons in more detail, with a sample of 107 of the parents. The analysis found evidence of both cooperation and financial coercion, and highlights the need for further research into the nature of private arrangements struck as a result of intimidation or pressure.

Bargaining in the shadow of the Child Support Agency? : cooperative versus coercive private arrangements.

Smyth B, Vnuk M and Aleema P
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 3 Oct 2020: 226-242
This is the second of three articles on 'private' child support arrangements in Australia. It investigates why some non-resident fathers pay more than their 'official' child support obligation, and why some resident mothers accept less than they entitled to. It analyses data for 733 parents registered with the Child Support Agency, as part of a broader study conducted in 2008. The data shows that one quarter of parents either paid more or accepted less child support than was due, and the majority of these cases were private arrangements where the Child Support Agency was not responsible for collecting payments. The findings suggest that private arrangements are widespread, with motivations including the desire to encourage parent-child contact, stop fights over parenting arrangements, and improve the perceived fairness of payments. The findings also raise concerns about the role of coercion in private arrangements, with suggestions that some resident mothers are being pressured to take less child support and that some nonresident fathers are paying extra in order to have regular contact with their children.

'Private' child support arrangements in Australia : a brief primer.

Aleema P, Smyth B and Vnuk M
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 3 Oct 2020: 213-225
This article is the first in a series examining 'private' child support arrangements in Australia. It provides contextual information on how these arrangements work, including administrative assessments, the provisions for formal child support agreements that can be accepted, and the options for parents to make informal agreements outside of the official child support register. This article serves as background to understand the research findings presented in the other two articles of the series: 'Bargaining in the shadow of the Child Support Agency: cooperative versus coercive private arrangements' and 'Paying more or accepting less child support: parental compromises in CSA Private Collect'.

Legislative changes to Child Support (Assessment) Act.

Walker-Roberts B and Nates A
Australian Family Lawyer v. 29 no. 3 Dec 2020: 34-38
Child support legislation was amended in 2018 regarding agreements between parents where one parent has less than 35% care of the child. This article highlights the issues involved for legal practitioners working with such cases and drafting child support agreements. It features several case examples to illustrate changes in eligibility and the impact of changing care time.

2019/20 annual report

Australia. Services Australia, Australia. Dept. of Human Services
Canberra, ACT : Services Australia, 2020.
This annual report provides information on the performance and finance of the Australian Government Department of Human Services for the 2019/20 period. The department serves nearly all Australians through the delivery of health and welfare payments and services, including Medicare, Centrelink, and the Child Support Scheme. This report includes information on the role and structure of the department, key performance indicators, social security and welfare, health, child support, support for vulnerable populations, service delivery improvements, collaboration and community engagement, compliance and business integrity, and staffing and resourcing. Note, the department changed its name to 'Services Australia' in February 2020, following an announcement in May 2019. In 2019/20, the agency administered $203.7 billion in payments on behalf of the Government, including an extra $521 million to support the COVID-19 pandemic.

Improvements in family law proceedings: interim report

Australia. Parliament. Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System
Canberra : Parliament House, 2020.
A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee was established in 2019 to investigate a range of issues associated with the appropriateness, effectiveness and impacts of the family law system. As the inquiry has been granted an extension, this interim report has been prepared to summarise the wide range of views and issues raised during public consultations so far. No recommendations are presented at this stage. The report provides a brief overview of the family law system and the courts, summarises the reforms to the Family Law Act since its introduction, then provides a snapshot of the issues raised in the many individual submissions in the inquiry. These include perceptions of bias, the role of family consultants and expert witnesses, whether the adversarial nature of the family law courts could be improved, misuse of systems and processes, professional misconduct, legal fees and costs, delays in the court system, family violence and parental alienation, custody and enforcement, parenting matters, the division of property, child support and its interaction with the family law system, support services within the family law system, and alternative dispute resolution.

Trampolines not traps: enabling economic security for single mothers and their children

Bowman D and Wickramasinghe S
Fitzroy, Vic. : Research & Policy Centre, Brotherhood of St. Laurence, 2020.
This paper investigates what reforms are needed to address the high rates of poverty among one parent families and proposes a framework to guide policy and program efforts. The paper draws on 27 single mothers from Victoria, examining how the government-administered payments of Child Care Subsidy, income support and Child Support helped or hindered their financial wellbeing and the intersections between work, care and social security. The mothers' highlighted issues of the struggle to make ends meet, the clash working more hours and losing income support and concessions, and the stress of a conditional and confusing social security system. Reform is required in multiple interrelated domains: not only in family-friendly, inclusive employment and flexible, affordable quality child care, but also in taxation, social security and child support policy.

Child poverty, child maintenance payments and interactions with social assistance benefits among lone parent families : a comparative analysis.

Hakovirta M, Skinner C, Hiilamo H and Jokela M
Journal of Social Policy v. 49 no. 1 Jan 2020: 19-39
Many countries combine private child maintenance and public social security policy to reduce poverty in lone parent families. However, many of these families are still in poverty - due in part to governments not passing on all of the child maintenance payment as an offset to the social support payment. These include 'pass through' and 'child maintenance disregard' mechanisms. This article investigates whether lone parents on social assistance benefits are any better off after child maintenance is paid, and whether national policies affect these outcomes. It compares data from the 2013 Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) for Australia, Finland, Germany and the United Kingdom - four countries with different child maintenance systems. The findings show that lone parents who do receive child maintenance have a lower child poverty rate compared to those who do not receive any, but that these outcomes vary for the poorest children depending on what mechanisms are in play. The findings raise questions about the legitimacy of child maintenance policies that proclaim to tackle child poverty when hidden interaction mechanisms continue to operate as cost recovery tools for the state.

2018-19 annual report

Australia. Services Australia, Australia. Dept. of Human Services
Canberra, ACT : Services Australia, 2019.
This annual report provides information on the performance and finance of the Australian Government Department of Human Services for the 2018/19 period. The department serves nearly all Australians through the delivery of health and welfare payments and services, including Medicare, Centrelink, and the Child Support Scheme. This report includes information on the role and structure of the department, key performance indicators, social security and welfare, health, child support, support for vulnerable populations, service delivery improvements, collaboration and community engagement, compliance and business integrity, and staffing and resourcing. Note, the department changed its name to 'Services Australia' in February 2020, following an announcement in May 2019. In 2018-19, the department managed payments totalling $184 billion, and processed more than 3.5 million social security and welfare claims and more than 429 million Medicare services.

Debts and disappointment: mothers' experiences of the child support system

Cook K, Goodall Z, McLaren J and Edwards T
Hawthorn, Vic. : Distributed by Australian Policy Online, 2019.
This report provides insights into the child support system in Australia, drawing on a survey of 469 mothers with children. The women were asked about their relationship and family status, how their child support and contact arrangements were determined and enacted, the level of contact and in-kind support provided by their ex-partner, payment arrangements, compliance and administration, debt, family violence and conflict, and the impact of arrangements on themselves and their children. A particular focus of the study was on why women often give up seeking or pursuing child support. The findings indicate that the child support system in its current form does not work for vulnerable women and their children, and indeed works best for those who need it least. The combination of legal loopholes, lack of institutional support, and systemic complexity means that, in too many cases, fathers can get away with not paying child support on time, in full or at all and many single mothers and their children are left without an adequate household income. Based on these findings, the report makes recommendations for reforming child support calculations and reporting on income.

Child poverty, child maintenance and interactions with social assistance benefits among lone parent families: a comparative analysis

Hakovirta M
Luxembourg : LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg, 2019.
"In many developed countries, lone parent families face high rates of child poverty. Among those lone parents who do get child maintenance there is a hidden problem. States may retain all, or a proportion, of the maintenance that is paid in order to offset other fiscal costs. Thus, the potential of child maintenance to alleviate poverty among lone parent families may not be fully realized, especially if the families are also in receipt of social assistance benefits. This paper provides an original comparative analysis exploring the effectiveness of child maintenance to reduce child poverty among lone parent families in receipt of social assistance. It addresses the question of whether effectiveness is compromised once interaction effects (such as the operation of a child maintenance disregard) are taken into account in four countries - Australia, Finland, Germany and the UK - using the LIS dataset (2013). It raises important policy considerations and provides evidence to show that if policy makers are serious about reducing child poverty, they must understand how hidden mechanisms within interactions between child maintenance and social security systems can work as effective cost recovery tools for the state, but have no poverty reduction impact."--Author abstract.

Australian master family law guide.

CCH Australia Limited
Sydney, NSW : CCH Australia, 2019.
Written for lawyers, counsellors, finance industry professionals, and students, this reference guide explains legislation, relevant case law, and legal procedures in Australian family law. Sections include: children; property; financial agreements; financial support for children; de facto relationships; and court processes, evidence and costs - all updated to reflect amendments and case law interpretations since the 2017 edition. Chapters include: Commonwealth, states, family law legislation and courts; Legal practice matters: client interview and drafting affidavits; Divorce; Shared parental responsibility; Dispute resolution and family relationship centres; Parenting orders, plans and guidelines; Principles the court must consider when conducting child-related proceedings; Major long-term issues (including paternity testing, changing a child's name, and relocation); Child abduction; Order enforcement and non-compliance in children's cases; Children and relationship factors (including drug use, family violence and child abuse, parental alienation syndrome); Surrogacy; Property; Maintenance; Bankruptcy and third parties; Corporations and trusts; Taxation considerations; Property orders; Superannuation; Financial agreements; Child support and maintenance; De facto relationships; Evidence; Court procedure; and Costs.

Keeping mum : characteristics and family dynamics of mothers who are liable to pay child support in Australia.

Vnuk M
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy v. 40 no. 1 Mar 2019: 127-142
This article explores the characteristics and circumstances of mothers who pay child support in Australia - a small but increasing population. Data is taken from the Child Support Reform Study, a longitudinal study of separated parents registered with the Child Support Agency, which included a sample of 185 female payers. The article discusses differences between female and male child support payers, amounts of shared time, employment, number and age of children, and the state of their relationship with their former partner. One finding is that mothers with a child support liability tended to be more fearful of their former partner than either mothers who received child support or fathers.

Child support compliance in the USA and Australia : to persuade or punish?

Oldham J and Smyth B
Family Law Quarterly v. 42 no. 2 Summer 2018: 325-348
This article looks into child support compliance rates in the United States and Australia and compares some of the enforcement strategies being used by their governments. The findings reveal that neither country is achieving good rates of compliance, despite the very different approaches being used. The article concludes by considering ways forward.

Annual report 2017-18.

Australia. Dept. of Human Services
Canberra, ACT : Dept. of Human Services, 2018.
This annual report provides information on the performance and finance of the Australian Government Department of Human Services for the 2017/18 period. The department serves nearly all Australians through the delivery of health and welfare payments and services, including Medicare, Centrelink, and the Child Support Scheme. This report includes information on the role and structure of the department, key performance indicators, social security and welfare, health, child support, support for vulnerable populations, service delivery improvements, collaboration and community engagement, compliance and business integrity, and staffing and resourcing. In 2017/8, the department processed $173.4 billion in payments and more than 3.3 million social security claims. This report highlights the growth on the provision of online services, include the myGov website portal, and describes changes in the use of data-matching to detect clients at risk of overpayment.

Social policy inquiries in Australia: the Henderson Poverty Inquiry in context

Regan S and Stanton D
Canberra, ACT : Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Australian National University, 2018.
In 1972, following widespread demand, the Commonwealth Government established a Commission of Inquiry into Poverty, chaired by Ronald Henderson. This paper explores the role of this inquiry in the context of other Australian inquiries, and maps the policy contribution of this type of 'public inquiry' for social policy processes and outcomes. The Henderson inquiry has made a significant and enduring contribution to policy development, and similar inquiries have contributed in diverse ways, sometimes in the short term or sometimes more slowly over decades. Sections include: Public inquiries and their policy contribution; Social policy inquiries from the 1970s to the present day; The Henderson Poverty Inquiry amidst extensive review activity; The 1980s and the Social Security Review; The 1990s, McClure (the first) and 'Welfare Reform'; The Ministerial Taskforce on Child Support; Australia's Future Tax System Review and the Pension Review; Another Audit Commission and McClure (the second); and The diverse contributions of social policy inquiries.

The 2018 child support changes - what family lawyers need to know.

Australia. Dept. of Human Services. Child Support Program Branch
Australian Family Lawyer v. 27 no. 2 Oct 2018: 35-43
The Family Assistance and Child Support Legislation Amendment (Protecting Children) Act 2018 has introduced changes into how child support is assessed, how interim care determinations are made, the methods available to collect child support overpayments, and processes for making applications to set aside a child support agreements. This article details these changes and the implications for family lawyers.

State facilitated economic abuse : a structural analysis of men deliberately withholding child support.

Natalier K
Feminist Legal Studies v. 26 no. 2 2018: 121-140
This article argues that men's deliberate withholding of child support can be a form of economic abuse in separated couples. Drawing on interviews with 37 single mothers, it looks at how the Child Support Program in Australia and its processes can entrench gendered power relations.

Child maintenance and social security interactions : the poverty reduction effects in model lone parent families across four countries.

Skinner C, Meyer D, Cook K and Fletcher M
Journal of Social Policy v. 46 no. 3 Jul 2017: 495-516
This article looks into one issue for child support schemes: how private child support payments can be counted against a parent's social security entitlements, thus effectively negating their aim to help reduce poverty in one parent families. The article examines the situation in four jurisdictions: Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Wisconsin in the United States. It looks at interactions between child maintenance systems and social security systems, and whether child maintenance amounts are affected by whether it is treated as a substitute for, or a complement to, cash benefits. The findings highlight the 'neutralising effects' of such policy settings.

The family in law.

Parashar A and Dominello F
Cambridge, UK : Cambridge University Press, 2017.
This text book provides an analysis of current family law in Australia, with reference to sociological, historical, and economic views of the institution of family and the law's focus on the nuclear family as the default model. Chapters are: Studying family law; Family law and its institutions; Marriage and marriage-like relationships; Divorce and violence in family law; Financial relations; Spousal maintenance; Private ordering of financial relations; Children in family law: child-related disputes under the Family Law Act; Children in court proceedings; Child maintenance and support and the wider social context of Australian family law; Family regulation: abortion and child protection; and Children and family formation: adoption and reproductive technologies.

An evaluation of the Kansas Child Support Savings Initiative

MDRC (Organization)
New York : MDRC, 2017.
"The state of Kansas created the Child Support Savings Initiative (CSSI) in 2013 to help parents who owe child support pay off debt that is owed to the state while also saving for their children's future higher education. The program aims to encourage parents to make qualifying deposits into tax-advantaged college savings plans ... administered by the state. In return, the parents receive matching reductions in their child support debts. Kansas originally created CSSI only for parents who owed child support debts to the state. [Then] Kansas decided it wanted to expand CSSI to debts owed the parents receiving child support ... MDRC applied insights from behavioral science to design and test solutions to address the savings program's primary challenge, which was that very few of the parents invited to participate ever responded or enrolled. Over several years, Kansas and MDRC conducted two randomized controlled trials to test different methods of outreach and engagement, and made significant changes to the program's design and operations. While implementation research suggests that some parents found CSSI appealing, the first round of testing saw largely trivial effects and the second round saw none. These results confirm other research that it is difficult to encourage low- and moderate-income individuals to save money ... Both the state and research team have a clearer understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to addressing child support debt and encouraging savings for education ... The results of this study suggest that there are limitations in marketing child savings accounts to parents in child support debt and, perhaps, to low-income parents in general."

Polyamorous relationships and family law in Canada

Boyd J
Calgary, AB : Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, 2017.
"This paper provides a discussion of polyamorous relationships, the legal distinction between relationships that are polyamorous and marriages that are bigamous and polygamous, and how polyamorous relationships are and are not accommodated by the domestic relations legislation of Canada's common law provinces. The paper includes an initial analysis of a study by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family on perceptions of polyamory in Canada, the demographics of Canadian polyamorists and their attitudes toward their relationships. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations directed to family law lawyers dealing with polyamorous clients, including the establishment of specialized practice associations to share knowledge and develop expertise on the unique legal needs of polyamorous families."

Australian master family law guide.

CCH Australia Limited
Sydney, NSW : CCH Australia, 2017.
Written for lawyers, counsellors, finance industry professionals, and students, this reference guide explains legislation, relevant case law, and legal procedures in Australian family law. Sections include: children; property; financial agreements; financial support for children; de facto relationships; and court processes, evidence and costs - all updated to reflect amendments and case law interpretations since the 2015 edition. Chapters include: Commonwealth, states, family law legislation and courts; Legal practice matters: client interview and drafting affidavits; Divorce; Shared parental responsibility; Dispute resolution and family relationship centres; Parenting orders, plans and guidelines; Principles the court must consider when conducting child-related proceedings; Major long-term issues; Child abduction; Order enforcement and non-compliance in children's cases; Children and relationship factors (including child abuse, drug use, family violence, parental alienation syndrome); Surrogacy; Property; Maintenance; Bankruptcy and third parties; Corporations and trusts; Taxation considerations; Property orders; Superannuation; Financial agreements; Child support and maintenance; De facto relationships; Evidence; Court procedure; and Costs.

Family life.

Wilkins R
The Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey : selected findings from Waves 1 to 15. Melbourne, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2017: 6-26
This chapter looks at four aspects of family life: the changing living arrangements of Australians, as described by the household types in which they live; fertility and fertility intentions, and how well fertility intentions predict actual fertility; receipt and payment of child support for children with separated parents; and child care use for children not yet at school. Data is taken from the first 15 waves of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, which were conducted between 2001 and 2015. Information is presented on: trends in household types, proportion of people in each household type if the proportion of the population at each age remained as it was in 2001, proportion of individuals for whom the household type changes from one year to the next, number of young adults living with their parents, fertility across the lifecycle, number of children ever had, intended number of children, intended fertility compared with actual fertility 10 years later, child support received and paid by separated parents, number of majority-care and minority-care parents, expected and actual annual child support payments, characteristics of recipients and payers of child support, duration of child support payments, use of paid child care, type of child care used, use by couple and single parents, expenditure on child care by family type and income, and difficulties in accessing or affording quality child care.

What difference do child support payments make to lone-mother poverty?, presented by Dr Christine Skinner and Dr Kay Cook [Seminar report]

Lamont A
Family Matters no. 99 2017: 66
This article summarises a recent seminar held at the Australian Institute of Family Studies: 'What difference do child support payments make to lone-mother poverty?', by Dr Christine Skinner and Dr Kay Cook, held on the 14 December 2016. In this seminar, Drs Skinner and Cook compared findings from two large-scale studies from Australia and the United Kingdom to determine whether receiving child support payments made a difference to lone mother poverty.

The impact of child support on the household income and labour supply of payee lone mothers.

Fisher H
Economic Record v. 93 no. 301 Jun 2017: 189-213
This article estimates the impact of child support receipt on lone mothers' income and labour market activities, using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Overall, the findings show that receiving any child support reduces government transfers, increases labour force participation, and increases household income - in excess of the amount of child support received. Furthermore, increasing the amount of child support received does not impact upon lone mothers' labour force participation or hours worked.

The potential of child support to reduce lone mother poverty : comparing population survey data in Australia and the UK.

Skinner C, Cook K and Sinclair S
Journal of Poverty and Social Justice v. 25 no. 1 Feb 2017: 79-94
This article investigates the contribution of child support to the income of lone mothers, comparing the situations in Australia and the United Kingdom. Overall, the findings indicate that child support payments are more likely to be paid and more likely to reduce lone mothers' poverty rate in Australia than in the United Kingdom, with implications for how child support systems are designed and enforced. Data for Australia is sourced from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey.

Annual report 2015-16.

Australia. Dept. of Human Services
Canberra, ACT : Dept. of Human Services, 2016.
This annual report provides information on the performance and finance of the Australian Government Department of Human Services for the 2015/16 period. The department serves nearly all Australians through the delivery of health and welfare payments and services, including Medicare, Centrelink, and the Child Support Scheme. This report includes information on the role and structure of the department, key performance indicators, social security and welfare, health, child support, support for vulnerable populations, service delivery improvements, collaboration and community engagement, compliance and business integrity, and staffing and resourcing. In 2015/16, the department processed more than 3.8 million social security and welfare claims and worked with separated parents to transfer monies to support approximately 1.2 million children. This period also saw the continued growth of the myGov website portal, which provides an online service option for government transactions.

Gender and evidence in family law reform : a case study of quantification and anecdote in framing and legitimising the 'problems' with child support in Australia.

Cook K and Natalier K
Feminist Legal Studies v. 24 no. 2 2016: 147-167
This article explores gender bias in how evidence is valued in family law. It presents a case study of the report 'Every Picture Tells a Story', which made controversial recommendations that led to reforms to the Australian Child Support Scheme. It considers how the report legitimises different kinds of evidence, finding that both quantitative and qualitative data were used to privilege fathers' interests at the expense of mothers' interests.

Nudges for child support: applying behavioral insights to increase collections.

MDRC (Organization)
New York : MDRC, 2016.
"The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and led by MDRC, is the first major opportunity to use a behavioral economics lens to examine programs that serve poor and vulnerable families in the United States. This report presents findings from four tests of behavioral interventions intended to increase the percentage of parents who made child support payments and the dollar amount of collections per parent in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Parents who owe child support and do not have their payments automatically deducted from their paychecks through income withholding typically need to actively initiate a new payment each month. The BIAS team examined the payment process in Cuyahoga County and diagnosed a number of behavioral factors potentially impeding collections. The team collaborated with the Cuyahoga Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) to design a number of behavioral interventions intended to increase collections and evaluate them using randomized controlled trials. These tests replicated and extended previous BIAS research on child support payments in Franklin County, Ohio ..."
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