Grandparents have a crucial role in supporting separated families

Couples with children whose relationships are breaking up are as likely to discuss separation issues with their parents as they are with professional advisers, including solicitors, according to a new survey.

The influential role of grandparents is revealed in a survey for Child Maintenance Options – a free and impartial information and support service.

According to a YouGov poll, of over 1,000 separated parents with children aged 18 or under, 60 per cent said they turned to their parents, siblings and friends for help and advice while only 27 per cent talked to a solicitor.

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Notably, grandparents were the most likely to be called upon of that group, with 30 per cent of the parents surveyed saying they turned to their mums and dads.

With an estimated 2.6 million children living in separated families in Britain, the survey highlights the need for the parents of couples who are splitting up to offer accurate and useful support.

Child Maintenance Options has published a new Grandparents Guide to Child Maintenance explaining how they can help to make sure their grandchildren are properly provided for after divorce or separation.

"More and more grandparents and other members of the family and friends of separating couples are calling our helpline, seeking guidance on their behalf," says Janet Paraskeva, chair of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

"A quarter of those using our website are 55 and over and many are grandparents. As a result, we have decided to prepare this simple guide to child maintenance."

Sam Smethers, chief executive of charity Grandparents Plus, said: "We welcome this new publication as it will help grandparents as they do what they can to support their families."

The free guide includes sections explaining what child maintenance is and the three ways it can be arranged. It also covers common concerns such as how child maintenance can be calculated, what to do if a couple are not on speaking terms and how to handle things if a parent stops paying.

The guide is downloadable from or call Options on 0800 988 0988 and request one.