News - Child Maintenance Options

Family-based arrangements get easier with Child Maintenance Options

30 March 2011

Separated parents are now being offered an over-the-phone estimate of how much they could get in child maintenance, as a guide to help them sort out their own arrangement for their children between themselves.

Many parents going through separation think the only way to get any sort of calculation is by applying to the Child Support Agency. Now Child Maintenance Options ā€“ the free, impartial information and support service ā€“ can provide quick and easy estimates of what parents might pay or receive were they to use the CSA.

Child Maintenance Options helps separated parents to make the maintenance arrangement that is best for them and their children. The over-the-phone estimates are complemented by a new discussion guide and family-based arrangement pack.

Follow-up support for parents after their initial contact with the service is also being trialled to help ensure their arrangements stand the test of time.

An estimated 91,000 children are already benefiting from family- based maintenance arrangements after contacting Child Maintenance Options, 30,000 more than a year ago.

Sarah, a mum from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne who used Child Maintenance Options after she split up with the father of her two young children, said:

"The lady I spoke to was wonderful. She did a calculation over the phone for me of what Iā€™d receive if I went through the CSA. But because I have a reasonably good relationship with my ex, we used the pack they sent us and we sat down and worked it out ourselves. It was really straightforward."

Every month the Child Maintenance Options service talks to thousands of separated parents, as well as their family members and friends. As well as the telephone and online service, its face-to-face consultants also complete over 500 visits each month, providing support to those who need it most.

Referrals to the service are also coming in from Jobcentre Plus and HM Revenue and Customs - which are now offering separated clients a call back from Child Maintenance Options.*

Janet Wojtkow, Director of Child Maintenance Options, said:

"These services have been developed, based on what people tell us they feel they need. We hope they will make things a little easier for other parents facing the sometimes tricky business of sorting out child maintenance.

"Separation can be a difficult time, but more and more parents are coming to realise that making sure their children are provided for is a priority when they break up. Research shows the sooner an arrangement is put in place the more likely it is to stick in the long run. We hope these enhancements will increase the number of children benefiting from regular and reliable maintenance arrangements."

* Parents on tax credits who contact HM Revenue and Customs to report changes of circumstance following family breakdown can now choose to get Child Maintenance Options to phone them back.

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