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Chamber and committees

Question reference: S6W-12475

  • Asked by: Fiona Hyslop, MSP for Linlithgow, Scottish National Party
  • Date lodged: 22 November 2022
  • Current status: Answered by Keith Brown on 7 December 2022


To ask the Scottish Government whether deliberate non-payment of child maintenance is being recognised within the justice system as financial abuse based on the definition of the statutory offence of domestic abuse set out in the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018; if so, to what extent this is being prosecuted, and, if not, what action it can take to ensure that it is recognised as abuse.


The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 provides for an offence of abuse of a partner or ex-partner which criminalises psychological, as well as physical, abuse. The definition of abuse includes a course of behaviour which is abusive and which has as its purpose, or which a reasonable person would think would be likely to have the effect of:

  • depriving the victim of, or restricting the victim's freedom of action; or
  • making the victim dependent on or subordinate to, the perpetrator

As such, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the offence can be used to prosecute financial abuse. This could include cases where, as part of a course of abusive behaviour, the perpetrator deliberately withholds child maintenance payments from their ex-partner.

Decisions about what conduct is charged as an offence of abuse of a partner or ex-partner are a matter for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, taking account of all the facts and circumstances of the particular case. The Scottish Government does not hold information about the details of individual charges and as such, it is not possible to say whether and to what extent deliberate non-payment of child maintenance has formed part of a charge for this offence.