Children 'missing out on maintenance cash'

CHILDREN could be missing out on maintenance payments because a third of separated parents do not know where to go for advice, a group claimed today.

About 36 per cent of parents who had separated from their partner said they did not know where to go for impartial information on child maintenance, according to support service Child Maintenance Options.

Just over a quarter of the parents questioned said they did not realise they could set up maintenance arrangements privately, rather than having to go through the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the courts.

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Many were reluctant to involve third parties, with 29 per cent not wanting to involve lawyers and 31 per cent not wanting to contact the CSA.

One in four people said they did not talk to anyone about their separation while they were going through it, and 52 per cent said having access to an impartial, confidential information service would have been welcome and helpful.

Janet Paraskeva, chairwoman 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."

The government estimates that about 300,000 couples with children separate each year.

• YouGov questioned 914 people with children aged under 18 who had separated from their partner during December.