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The Government has proposed that the current child maintenance system is to be changed in order to reduce conflict between parents who have separated or divorced and to reduce the cost of running the system which is currently about £460 million a year.
At present, if parents cannot reach an agreement about child maintenance, either of them can apply to the Child Support Agency. However, this can sometimes increase conflict between parents which may have a direct impact on their ability to be able to reach agreement about other matters such as whether the non-resident parent should have contact with the child, if so, the level of that contact etc.
The latest figures show that there are about 3.5 million children from separated families, with almost half having no effective maintenance arrangements. Furthermore, the figures show that 20% of those children lose contact with the non-resident parent. The Government believes that the current child maintenance system “entrenches conflict when families separate."
Under the Government’s proposals, separating parents will be encouraged to find a settlement on their own, and those who insist on State intervention, will have to pay a fee.
Changes to the current system are much needed, but the Government’s proposals need to also address the issue of what is to happen to those parents who cannot reach an agreement and who cannot afford to pay the necessary fee.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles