The Department for Work and Pensions has allocated £20m to boost support services for separated parents as part of changes to the child maintenance system.
Announcing the funding, work and pensions minister Maria Miller said a steering group of voluntary and community sector experts and academics will advise the government on how the money should be distributed to existing support organisations.
The move is part of measures to reduce the cost of the £500m maintenance system and enable separated parents to make their own arrangements without reliance on the state.
Miller said: “We need to rebalance our spending so more families can access the support they need to work out their own arrangements rather than default into the statutory scheme.
“Even at the difficult time of family breakdown both parents must take responsibility for supporting their children. Parents know what is best for their family, this is why we will offer further support at the point of separation to help establish a dialogue between parents and workable financial arrangements that always put children first.”
The steering group will also help to decide on what families need, such as a web service offering peer-to-peer forums and signposting to local support services or a helpline for separating parents.
Sarah Caulkin, interim chief executive of Relate, which is part of the steering group, said: “We very much welcome the funding package announced for services for separating and separated parents, including relationship support.
“Separation puts families under immense strain, but we hope this funding will not only allow parents to access support before problems become serious, but also enable as many parents as possible to make their own arrangements to become effective co-parents, which in turn will benefit the whole family.”