Research team


- Research expertise concerning divorce, in particular regarding child maintenance and the residence arrangement of children after relationship dissolution. These topics have been worked on within the research projects FiTTiF (Families in transition) and Family 2.0, and from both a quantitative (longitudinal analysis on register and survey data) and qualitative angle (analysis of in-depth interviews with Grounded Theory). - Research expertise in the context of satisfaction surveys. Experience was gained in the organization of these surveys for external parties, i.e. the Flemish Fire Brigade and the COV. - Experience in the context of project management for the project Separation in Flanders. - Teaching experience concerning advanced statistics and research methodology.

Feasibility study on a universal and automatic alimony fund for the Institute for Gender Equality. 17/05/2023 - 31/12/2024


The Maintenance Claims Service (DAVO) ensures the collection of maintenance payments (meaning maintenance payments for ex-partners and maintenance contributions for children after a relationship breakdown), as well as the arrears thereof for maintenance beneficiaries who are confronted with non-payment. In addition, it grants advances on maintenance payments for children if they are not paid (in full or on time) by the person liable for maintenance. DAVO thus forms an essential safety net for maintenance recipients who are confronted with non-payment - a situation that affected one in five maintenance recipient households in 2020. However, the accessibility of this service represents a possible shortcoming of the system, as there is no automatic allocation of maintenance payments and their advances. Despite the greater need for correct payment of maintenance contributions, the take-up of various vulnerable groups confronted with non-payment remains low. All kinds of barriers, including lower socio-economic status (particularly a lower capacity to navigate complex administrative systems), physical and mental barriers (including language barriers), stigma and domestic violence, make it additionally complex to access social services. This is further reinforced if several of these thresholds intersect. Commissioned by the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, this collaborative study examines the feasibility of an automatic and universal alimony fund from a social (Department of Sociology, University of Antwerp), financial (Research Institute for Labor and Society, KU Leuven) and legal perspective ( Department of Law, University of Antwerp). From a social perspective, the barriers to take-up are examined using a qualitative research approach, in which both DAVO employees and maintenance claimants who have and have not used DAVO have their say. The financial perspective concerns a comprehensive budget estimate regarding the implications of an automatic allocation of maintenance recoveries and advances, from different levels of coverage. Various scenarios are taken into account in which, depending on the profile of the maintenance beneficiary, the automation comes into effect immediately or in phases. Finally, the legal perspective is based on an international comparison of existing automatic maintenance funds, including France, Québec, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Belgian legal framework is also thoroughly examined to map out the possibilities and requirements for automating DAVO's services. Finally, bringing together the social, financial and legal perspectives serves to draw up an integrated step-by-step plan, through which the introduction of a universal and automatic maintenance fund in Belgium could become a reality.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project