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Changes to child support – not the right approach

The coalition government is trying to encourage parents to make their own arrangements for the financial support of their children, rather than using the statutory system – the dreaded Child Support Agency (CSA).

One reason for this is to reduce the statutory caseload and therefore the cost to the state of running the service. It is also being suggested that moving parents to family based agreements will facilitate better relationships between them.

As an incentive to encourage people to make their own arrangements, the current proposal is to introduce a fee for anyone using the statutory scheme.

As an experienced family lawyer I have no idea what makes the government think that a higher proportion of families will be able to make their own arrangements. In my view the families who can make their own arrangements are those with better relationships – and those families are able to reach agreement as things stand. It’s the families with a difficult relationship where there is little inclination to compromise that are the issue. How will the possibility of a payment to use a statutory scheme encourage agreement?

For current information on arranging child maintenance visit: www.gov.uk/child-maintenance