Single parent housing: the role of child support payment and receipt on housing satisfaction in Australia

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Traditionally, the housing career pathway in Australia was relatively risk free characterised by departure from the family home, a short period of renting, followed by the purchase of a home with the aid of a mortgage. Typically, the family home was paid off during working life, securing zero or minimal housing costs in retirement. This pathway has been eroded over recent decades as Australia has experienced a housing affordability crisis with the result of uncertain housing career paths and precarious housing situations for low or single-income households and those that face significant financial shocks over the life course. One such financial shock is separation or divorce. The end of a marriage or defacto partnership impacts the housing career for one or both parties exiting the relationship and for many it signals an exit from home ownership. This is augmented by recent trends which indicate couples are buying later in life, which (subject to market trends) implies less accumulated equity over the life course for homeowners with a mortgage.

Household structure is a key factor in the type and location of housing desired, and the financial constraints those decisions are made under. As household characteristics change so too do the attributes preferred in housing form and location. Households with resident dependent children may value space and quality highly, driven by social norms, such as a bedroom for each child, and proximity to schooling, and social capital. In the event of a shared care agreement both parents need to support a home that can function as a family home. In this paper, using 16 years of HILDA data (household income and labour dynamics in Australia survey) we explore how separation impacts on the housing career trajectories of single parent households. We examine the housing situations of parent households with resident and non-resident children, those that have re-partnered, and compare these household forms to couple families housing outcomes. We analyse how the payment or receipt of child support impacts the housing security and stated satisfaction outcomes for receivers and payers. Preliminary results suggest that child support receipt is an important indicator of housing satisfaction and stability. We consider how policy settings such as those set by the child support agency flow through to impact housing outcomes
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2019
EventSPA annual conference 2019 ‘Social Policy – Securing the Future’ - Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jul 201910 Jul 2019


ConferenceSPA annual conference 2019 ‘Social Policy – Securing the Future’
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • single parents
  • child maintenance
  • child support
  • housing
  • Australia

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