News - Child Maintenance Options

Minister unveils Innovation Fund to pioneer new support services for separating parents

25 June 2012

Shared parenting key to children’s futures, says Maria Miller.

The Government is taking radical steps to promote collaborative parenting in separated families.  A fund, worth up to £14 million over two years, is being established to develop effective and innovative support services for separated and separating families.

The new services will help parents to foster collaborative relationships with each other after separation, including agreeing child maintenance. 

Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller said:

"The fund will be for interventions that can help parents work together, including intensive counselling, emotional support and  mediation, as well as online and telephone advice. These kinds of services are best delivered outside of government and there is considerable expertise, notably in the voluntary sector, of providing them."

Today’s announcement reaffirms the Coalition Government’s commitment to shared parenting which also includes changes to the family justice system and an overhaul of the child maintenance system to see parents supported to make their own, family-based, child maintenance arrangements whenever possible.

The Government wants to see better co-ordination of services available to separated and separating families and announced a £20m investment towards this in January. The bulk of the funding will be distributed towards the Innovation Fund.

Maria Miller added:

"If separation is unavoidable then having both parents actively involved in their lives is the best way for children to develop.   So this is a challenge for organisations and individuals to suggest how we can make this important investment in families really count."

The Child Support Agency currently costs the taxpayer approximately £0.5 billion per annum. Department for Work and Pensions research has suggested that the majority of separated parents currently using the CSA believe they would be likely to make their own maintenance arrangements with the right help and support.

Editor’s Notes

  • The 2008 DWP Relationship Separation and Child Support study  reported that a majority of CSA parents with care and CSA non-resident parents (51 per cent and 74 per cent) felt they would be likely or very likely to make a family-based arrangement with the other parent were they to receive help from a trained impartial adviser.
  • The level of support that could be available from the fund will range from helping parents who have intensive needs (e.g. counselling) to advice on basic issues such as answering "who pays for the school uniforms". The types of support that could be available from the fund include:
    • Mediation
    • Web based support
    • Financial information and advice
    • Telephone support, including ‘hand holding’ through services
    • Emotional support
    • Face to face support
    • Intensive parenting counselling

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