Thousands of separated parents are to be told to 'amicably' compromise with their partners over child maintenance payments – or face a fee.
The Government is writing to 52,000 parents to begin closing their Child Support Agency (CSA) arrangements and inform them of potential charges if they can't agree on how to pay or their kids.
A new agency called Child Maintenance Service will replace the CSA and will collect money on behalf of parents who fail to come to an informal agreement.
BUT the Government will now start charging families for this service.
A charity warned the changes could force some parents into 'unstable' arrangements.
Child maintenance is financial support that helps towards a child's living costs when parents have separated.
If parents split, maintenance should be paid to the person who takes care of the child on a day-to-day basis.
Under the old system many single parents used CSA to sort out maintenance payments, but this is being abolished because it costs £74 million a year to run.
Under the new replacement Child Maintenance Service, ministers want to encourage parents to come to voluntary arrangements but if that is not possible - and the new statutory service is used - then both parties will be charged.
Under the new rules if an amicable arrangement cannot be reached the paying parent - usually the father - will have a 20 per cent fee added to the maintenance payment, while the receiving parent will pay 4 per cent to get the money.
The charges will be introduced later this year, and all single parents will be charged an upfront fee of £20 for registering with the new service.
The chief executive of the single-parent charity Gingerbread, Fiona Weir, warned: "While many parents are able to agree private child maintenance arrangements, for many other parents, this just isn't possible without government help.
"We're very concerned that closing CSA cases and bringing in charges may deter some parents from making new child maintenance agreements or pressure single parents into unstable arrangements, and children will lose out on vital support."
For further help and assistance with child maintenance parents can visit www.cmoptions.org.
What do you think about these changes? Will you be affected?