Emotion and evidence in child support reform processes
Natalier, KA, Emotion and evidence in child support reform processes, CRFR 4th International Conference: Researching families and relationships: innovations in methods, theory and policy relevance, 10-12 June, 2013, Edinburgh (2013) [Conference Extract]
The expression of anger, sadness and love are evident in political debates and individual negotiations over mothering, fathering and financially supporting children when parenting apart, but legal and policy processes translate emotions into a technical language of calculating and distributing the costs of a child. In academic work, too, child support is most commonly studied as an economic transfer. Child support has yet to be fully analysed as an expression and constitutive element of how it feels to be parenting and paying for a child post-separation – and how these feelings may be expressed and used in gendered ways within the political realm.
In this paper we contribute to the small but growing literature that acknowledges the expressive dimensions of paying and receiving – and not paying or receiving – child support (e.g. Dudova 2006; Natalier & Hewitt 2010; Simpson 1997) . Our study draws on the written submissions that were part of the evidential processes of Australia’s most recent child support reforms. We use discourse analysis to explore three questions:
1. How do men and women us their emotional responses to the transfer of child support money as evidence in law and policy reform processes?
2. How are such expressions indicative of gendered post-separation parenting identities?
3. How can public submissions be used to develop insights into emotions as a felt response and a political strategy in the context of law and policy reform?