Over the weekend we heard of another Conservative idea aimed at encouraging couples to stay together. According to The Telegraph: "Parents who split up face having to pay a "fee" to the government to sort out their child maintenance arrangements under controversial plans to tackle family breakdown." The fee would only be payable by those who can't agree child maintenance themselves. The Telegraph goes on: "[the fee] would only be levelled at the end of a process of mediation when the state stepped in to "police" maintenance payments and child access arrangements", which sounds dangerously like linking the issues of child maintenance and contact.
The rationale for the plan is explained by 'a Coalition source': "The aim would be to be act as a deterrent and help convince parents that splitting up should be an option of last resort when all other avenues had been taken. The whole system needs to be made more family friendly."
I don't honestly think that by the time separating parents get to the point of discussing child maintenance that having to pay a fee will make them decide to stay together after all. On the other hand, having to pay a fee may deter the less well off from seeking child maintenance.