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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

11 JAN 2010

A quarter of separated parents don't know how to make private maintenance arrangements

Children could be missing out on maintenance because too many parents don't know how to sort out child maintenance after separation, according to a new survey.

Around 300,000 couples with children separate each year according to the Department for Work and Pensions. Yet in a poll of over 900 separated parents with children aged 18 or below, a third said they didn't know where to go to get impartial information about child maintenance.

None of the parents polled were compelled to use the Child Support Agency, yet a quarter were unaware they could make maintenance arrangements privately, without involving third parties. Since October 2008 all parents, including those in receipt of benefits, are free to make their own maintenance arrangements as an alternative to using the Child Support Agency or the courts.

The YouGov survey was commissioned for the launch of a national campaign to promote Child Maintenance Options, a free public information and support service which helps separated parents decide which child maintenance arrangement best suits their circumstances.

Not knowing where to get information wasn't the only issue parents identified. Having to involve third parties was seen by many as a barrier to sorting out child maintenance - 29% said they didn't want to involve lawyers, and 31% didn't want to involve the CSA.

Janet Paraskeva, Chair of Child Maintenance Options said: "Too many children are missing out, partly because parents - during what is already a very confusing time - are receiving conflicting advice. Child Maintenance Options is here to provide the facts and explain the different types of arrangements everyone can now make. It's designed to help both parents, as well as family members and friends of people going through separation."

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