Economic instability is a major reason that victims stay in or return to abusive relationships. Child support programs have a unique opportunity to help victims safely establish financial independence. This desk card provides steps to helping domestic violence victims safely establish financial independence through pursuing child support.
More than 90% of women with current or former abusive partners want to pursue child support if they can do so safely. The majority of families participating in the child support program are current or former cash assistance recipients and research from the late 1990s indicates that 20%-30% of women receiving cash assistance were in an abusive relationship. Research also shows that the birth of a child and the separation of a couple can trigger a violent response even if the past abuse was not physical. The establishment of an order at the time of the child’s birth, as well as support activities, can increase the risk of violence unless safety risks are addressed.