The Department for Work and Pensions has published an analysis of statistics on the numbers of separated families and their child maintenance arrangements, based on data from the Family Resources Survey. The statistics suggest that in 2016/17 there were 2.5 million separated families with children under 16 (or under 20, if in full time tertiary education), and that there were 3.9 million children in those families. Only 48% of separated families apparently had a child maintenance arrangement – 20% of the families had statutory arrangements and 31% had non-statutory arrangements (some families had both, hence the mismatch in the figures). There is a useful flowchart showing the different ways in which families can go about organising a child maintenance arrangement, which you can see here.
The DWP has also published an analysis of the statistics about parents who contacted Child Maintenance Options between May and July 2018. Child Maintenance Options (CMO) is, of course, the government’s free service providing impartial information and support for separated parents wanting to make decisions about their child maintenance arrangements. CMO is also the gatekeeper to the Child Maintenance Service, which is the government service for when parents can’t agree; arrangements made by the Child Maintenance Service are not free.
Between May and July 2018, there were 28,900 new child maintenance arrangements set up, of which £6,300 were family arrangements; parents contacting CMO during this period also reported an additional 3,600 family-based arrangements, either set up before the parents contacted CMO or where the timing was uncertain. Eighty-six per cent of the parents with a family based arrangement said that it worked fairly or very well. Almost 15,000 children were being provided for by these family arrangements.
For the full analysis, see https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/784472/child-maintenance-arrangements-made-after-speaking-to-cm-options-decembe.._.pdf