Family Law and Social Security in Australia: The Child Support Connection
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law
August, 21 2008
Australian Journal of Family Law, Vol. 3, pp. 70-92, 1989
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/99
This article demonstrates how legal categories often create 'silos' that make it difficult to understand important legal issues that operate across more than one legal doctrine. By examining what was then a new national child support scheme, it shows how family law decision making and legal and policy decisions around social welfare payments are totally interconnected and highly gendered. The article locates the creation of the child support scheme within the context of the material lives of the women who are single parents. Empirical data about single parents (who they are and how they came to be single parents) are contrasted with prevailing myths, and discussed within the framework of the social security (welfare) system, the major source of income support for single parent families in Australia. It also demonstrates the fundamental shifts that the scheme brought about in family law decision making, and questions the rhetorical resort to the ideology of equality in attempting to resolve the poverty of single parents and their children. The article demonstrates the ways in which this notion can conceal major structural barriers to women's attainment of legal and financial independence and can obscure endemic inequalities between women and men in Australia.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: equality, family law, social security law, welfare, child support, single parents, women's work, sex discrimination
JEL Classification: I31, I38, J12, J16, J71, K10, K30
Date posted: August 21, 2008
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