As part of controversial plans to tackle family breakdown, parents who part ways face having to pay a 'fee' to the UK government to sort out their child maintenance arrangements. Few charges could be brought in for the first time under a drive to reform the complex and over-bureaucratic child maintenance system and make it more "family-friendly".
The move is likely to spark protests from groups representing women trapped in abusive relationships.
AdvertisementMaria Miller, the junior minister at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Conservative Party's families spokesperson, will unveil the controversial proposals, reports the Telegraph.
She is likely to ask for the public's views on charging parents for services currently provided by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC), which oversee the work of the Child Support Agency (CSA).
She will also ask for views on the appropriate level for any fees to be set. They would only be levelled at the end of a process of mediation when the state stepped in to "police" maintenance payments and child access arrangements.
One option would be to charge both parents a fee in the same way people currently face charges for taking out a bank loan or a mortgage, according to ministers.
A Coalition source said: "The aim would be to be act as a deterrent and help convince parents that splitting up should be an option of last resort when all other avenues had been taken. The whole system needs to be made more family friendly."
Ministers also want the maintenance regime to focus much more on "early intervention" in cases where couples face relationship breakdown.
They will be encouraged to undergo mediation and more measures to ensure children in such households are properly protected and supported.