Parents who claim benefits are free to choose the child maintenance arrangement that best suits their own particular circumstances, whether or not they are on benefits.
For receiving parents, any child maintenance received does not affect benefit entitlement. For paying parents, any benefits they receive are included as income by the Child Support Agency or Child Maintenance Service when calculating their child maintenance payments.
A small number of local councils in England count child maintenance as income when they work out whether someone is entitled to have their council tax payments reduced. Parents should speak to their council if they are making an application to their Council Tax Reduction Scheme or already receive a reduction in their Council Tax under a Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
Unfortunately, paying parents face discrimination in the benefits system because, whilst they are recognised as parents in child maintenance law, their parenting is not reflected in benefits regulations where they are treated as single adults.