DWP Separate Family Statistics – What Does The Report Show?

Statistics being discussed

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been conducting a study across Great Britain looking to discern key figures in regards to separated families and their child maintenance agreements. Data collection began in April 2014 and lasted until March 2022. As of March 2023, this data has been made publicly available with their findings illustrating some surprising truths regarding divorce, separation, and child maintenance.


There were 2.5 million separated families, with 4 million children

While the number of separated families is still relatively high, this is mostly in line with the figures that were collected between April 2014 and March 2017 (2.5 million separated families with 3.9 million children) indicating that this quantity is fairly representative. With so many children being involved in these separated families, it’s important that we acknowledge the value of child maintenance in ensuring that there is financial support available for under 16s.


59% of separated families had a child maintenance arrangement

Comparing this to the total number of separated families, only roughly 1.47 million had a child maintenance agreement in place. In the majority of separation cases, one of the parents is legally entitled to claim maintenance payments from the other, so it’s worrying to see this percentage fall so far short of the full amount. Only in instances where both parents have shared care for at least 52 nights a year, or the involved parties have reached an agreement that child maintenance is not required will payment not be needed. This number falls short of what we would expect but is a major improvement on the figures for 2014-17 when only 48% of separated families had a child maintenance agreement in place.


As a result of child maintenance payments, 100,000 children were kept out of absolute low income on a before housing costs basis, and 160,000 children on an after-housing costs basis

Unfortunately, this figure illustrates that a significant portion of separated parents with care of the child/children are heavily reliant on maintenance payments. It also prompts the question – how many more children would be kept out of absolute low-income households if child payments were properly claimed and enforced by the CMS?


Child maintenance payments kept 3% of parent with care households out of the lowest 20% of the after-housing costs income distribution

Another figure that shows the importance of child maintenance in supplementing the incomes of separated parents involved in care. Sadly, it also shows that many single income households toe the poverty line and can be quite severely affected in child maintenance regulation changes with potentially thousands dipping under that 20% if unable to claim payments and withholding support from the government via benefit schemes.


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At FMACS, we are experts in resolving couple disputes and helping families come to amicable resolutions across the fields of finance, childcare, and more. Get in touch with a member of our specialist team today on 0330 113 0005.

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