Dr Kay Cook

Women's access to child support: a comparative investigation of policy obstacles and solutions

Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (1.1.2017-31.12.2020) 


This project addresses the barriers to child support that women experience, and in doing so, seeks to reduce single mother and child poverty. It examines the black box of institutional practices that operationalize child support policy, often in the context of fiscal constraint and neoliberal assumptions regarding individual and familial responsibility. The focus is on the gendered consequences- intended and unintended- produced in this process. 


This project seeks to conduct in-depth case studies of the institutional child support settings that exist in Australia, the USA and the UK, and engage national and international experts in order to answer the following research questions:

1. How do post-separation institutions in different contexts see and operationalize parental agency and responsibility?

2. What impact do these different institutional settings have on women's child support avoidance?

3. How do institutional systems worldwide recognise and respond to women's child support avoidance?

4. What international responses to child support avoidance are likely to have success in the Australian context?



Dr Mia Hakovirta

Child maintenance policies, family complexity and equality
Academy Research Fellow Project (1.9.2016–31.8.2021) funded by Academy of Finland

Family relationships are recognized to be increasingly complex in many Western industrialized countries. As family relationships become more complex, it raises a question about how child maintenance policy should address complex family situations. What are the financial obligations of both parents to pay child maintenance given shifts in maternal employment and greater father involvement in childcare? How does the expectation for co-parenting and diverse visitation and residence arrangements articulate with family complexity?

This research attempts to address these issues by examining child maintenance systems with a special focus on family complexity in child maintenance rights and obligations across countries. This project (1) extends understanding of child maintenance policies across countries and provides in-depth knowledge of how said policies treats family complexity, (2) provides information on outcomes of child maintenance policies in complex families across countries, and (3) examines the equality of child maintenance obligations in a variety of countries.

The study employs vignette method used in previous comparative studies on child maintenance policies. Vignettes are hypothetical cases that are intended to highlight the policy and how policy works in particular family situations. Comparing the outcomes of child maintenance policies the Luxembourg Income Study data (LIS) allows an analysis on the child maintenance payers and the recipients, the amounts of paid and received child maintenance and the impact of child maintenance on child poverty across the OECD-countries. 


CURRENT PROJECTS