Separated parents will be hit by charges if they cannot come to an agreement over child support for their children under a new system coming into force today.
Parents who turn to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to collect and pay settlements will face hefty fees.
The parent not living full-time with their children will face a 20% surcharge on top of their support payment, while the other parent faces losing 4% of the money they would normally receive.
Children of parents who abuse drugs and alcohol have to "cover up something that is so dreadfully sad" while trying to grow up themselves, the adult child of an alcoholic told Good Morning Britain.
Giselle Mannering described the demands on young children and teenagers with addict parents, after the charity ChildLine announced calls to its helpline about family members with substance abuse problems had doubled in the last year.
"You have to cover things up. You have to deal with all the rubbish that is going on at home - the arguments, the drinking, the lack of parental support at home...and then you have to go into school and perform."
Many children are being forced to live in dirty and even dangerous surroundings and lack many essentials including having enough to eat and clean clothes to wear because the household money is frittered away on booze, the charity warned.
My dad has been drinking and taking drugs a lot recently - it's ruining our family.
He gets angry when he has been drinking so he says nasty things to us like we are stupid and worthless. I'm finding it difficult to deal with because underneath it all I know he's a really good dad.
The emotional trauma of their parents' substance abuse combined with their chaotic home lives is driving many children to depression, self harm and even suicidal thoughts, the NSPCC said.
The number of children calling ChildLine to confide in a counsellor about their parents' drinking and drug abuse has doubled in the past year, the charity has revealed.
The 24-hour helpline received 5,323 calls - more than 100 a week - from children scared by their parents' behaviour, a rise on the 2,509 calls it fielded the year before.
Most of the children turning to the NSPCC-run service were between the ages of 12 and 15, but a substantial minority - one in 10 - were aged 11 or under and still at primary school.
In a stark warning, the charity said thousands of children live in fear of being on the receiving end of their parents' anger, with one in six saying they had fallen victim to physical violence by their mum or dad when they were under the influence.
Sustrans launched its Campaign for Safer Streets today, urging parents to write to their MP to demand every child be given the right to a safe journey to school.
Sustrans chief executive Malcolm Shepherd said:
In 2012, a total of 33 children were killed and more than 1,800 were seriously injured while walking or cycling. If a whole classroom of children had been killed under other circumstances there would be public outcry.
There's a simple solution in our hands. We must urgently make our roads safer for those children already making a healthy, active school run and also to encourage those who don't feel safe enough to start walking or cycling.
A total of 470 parents who have a child aged five to 11 who travels to and from school were polled in a survey from the sustainable transport charity Sustrans.
In the parents survey it showed:
- 18% said their child had experienced a vehicle not stopping at a pedestrian crossing
- 13% said their child had experienced a speeding vehicle nearly hitting them.
- 5% said their child had been hit by a vehicle while walking
- 44% said the safety of their child on the road was their biggest concern.
More than 40% of parents of five to 11-year olds say their child has been involved in a near-miss while walking or cycling to or from school, according to a survey by transport charity Sustrans.
Road safety is more of a concern to parents than "stranger danger", the survey from sustainable transport charity Sustrans also found, with 44% classing it above a stranger walking off with their son or daughter.
Parents that were polled said that slower speeds and more dedicated walking and cycling routes and safer crossings were among the most important traffic measures that would allow their child to get to school without worry.
Parents are being urged to tell their children they love them every day in an effort to boost youngsters' self-esteeem.
A new leaflet also says mums and dads should refrain from swearing, shouting or smoking in front of their children.
The advice from the National Association of Head Teachers and charity Family Action comes amid fears that the pressures of modern life mean parents are forgetting the "little things" that can give their children extra confidence.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has set out a number of measures it wants the Government to take to reduce infant mortality, including tightening road traffic laws and bringing in minimum alcohol pricing.
- withdraw the Government's welfare cap to avoid high living costs hitting poor families
- a 20mph speed limit in built-up areas to stop road accidents
- a Graduated Licence scheme for new drivers
- better health education in schools
- introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol
- more action to stop mothers smoking during pregnancy
Child deaths are "disproportionately" high among the poorest families in the UK, a group of leading children's doctors has said.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) also found that British children were at a higher risk of premature death than children in other parts of Western Europe.
The RCPCH report also hit out at politicians for offering "piecemeal" solutions to the problem of infant mortality.