Domestic Violence and Marriage Like Relationships: Have We Begun to Emerge from the Dark Ages?

37(2) Alternative Law Journal 91-95, 2012

5 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2012

See all articles by Caroline Doyle

Caroline Doyle

University of Canberra

Patricia L. Easteal

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice

Derek Emerson-Elliott

University of Canberra

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

In this paper we look at recent happenings concerning social security law and domestic violence. Several decisions have been made in which women subject to domestic violence were found to qualify for discretionary rulings under section 24 of the Social Security Act 1991 (the ‘SSA’) that a person may be treated as not a member of a couple. In this article, we look at some of these cases, and try and predict whether a trend has been established or whether there has merely been a swing of a pendulum that is destined to swing back to a more cautionary approach. We also review the arguments for and against an amendment to section 4 of the SSA (section 4 defines ‘member of a couple’). We look too at developments in New Zealand and how lessons can be learnt from our closest neighbours in regards to legislation that should protect victims of domestic violence. Finally we focus on the recent evolution of the equitable doctrine of unconscionable conduct to support our contention that some victims of domestic violence do not truly consent to their status as a member of a couple and that this should be taken into account by decision-makers.

Keywords: domestic violence, social security law, member of a couple

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Doyle, Caroline and Easteal, Patricia L. and Emerson-Elliott, Derek, Domestic Violence and Marriage Like Relationships: Have We Begun to Emerge from the Dark Ages? (2012). 37(2) Alternative Law Journal 91-95, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2181785

Caroline Doyle

University of Canberra ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Patricia L. Easteal (Contact Author)

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice ( email )

Australia

Derek Emerson-Elliott

University of Canberra ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

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