Child Support Policies and Domestic Violence: A Preliminary Look at Client Experiences with Good Cause Exemptions to Child Support Cooperation Requirementsclick to download
This 1997 report gathers preliminary data for the Colorado Model Office Project (Grant No. 90-FF-0027, funded by the Office of Child Support Enforcement) about client experiences with good cause via interviews and a review of applications. The goal of the Model Office Project was to demonstrate the effectiveness of various innovations in child support case processing. The research was conducted in 1994 at the Denver Department of Social Services.
- Respondents reported that aspects of child support cooperation are unfair or impossible.
- A victim may not know where her former partner is working or living, and he may have hidden his SSN from her.
- Victims report difficulty divulging information about their abusers.
- Child support enforcement may endanger the mother and children, and many abusers have made threats of harm or kidnapping.
- Of the 20 interviewed, 14 feared retaliation due to a child support order; however, only eight of those requested good cause.
- Obtaining documentation of abuse is a challenge for victims.
- Documentation of abuse or assault may not exist.
- Obtaining official records may cost money and require transportation, and victims may not have the resources to obtain the records within the allotted timeframe.
- Respondents and reviews of applications shed some light on good cause approval/denial.
- If evidence is contradictory (i.e., victim has a restraining order, but a judge approved unsupervised visitation with the abuser), good cause may be denied.
- Similar evidence may be judged inconsistently and arbitrarily; one case may be approved, but a case that provided similar documentation may be denied.
- Other feedback from interviews and reviews:
- Applicants do not have the time or resources to understand everything going on, ask questions, or explain their situations.
- Applicants have concerns about confidentiality; they may not know or trust that the information shared is confidential, or the victim’s location may be revealed on records.
- Victims do not know where to get help; all those interviewed requested counseling or therapy for themselves or their children, or legal assistance
- Victims want job training and to be self-sufficient; however, work may be challenging due to mental health and childcare needs.
Author(s): Esther Ann Griswold, Jessica Pearson
Issues & Focus Areas
- Child Support
- Child Welfare
- Early Childhood & Education
- Economic Security & Healthcare
- Father Engagement & Healthy Relationships
- Gender-Based Violence