Hundreds of parents across the north and north-east are failing to pay their ex-partners the money they should to provide for their children.
Newly released figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that a “worryingly high” number of people have been failing to make child maintenance payments.
Nearly 40% of the 460 parents in the Highlands who were supposed to pay contributions through the child maintenance service between April and June last year had their payments in arrears.
In Aberdeenshire, 37% of the 370 parents due to pay for support between those months had also fallen behind, along with 30% of the 400 in Aberdeen.
Charity for single-parent families, Gingerbread, said the rate of non-compliance across the UK is 37% on average – which adds up to more than £200 million going unpaid.
The organisation’s research officer, Sumi Rabindrakumar, said the figures proved that more needed to be done to ensure children “get the support they deserve”.
She said: “These figures show that the government still needs to get to grips with unpaid child maintenance.
“Time and time again, parents come to Gingerbread frustrated.
“This is not just about introducing more powers. The child maintenance service must deal with cases more promptly and make better use of existing powers.
“Without reform, too many children will continue to go without the support they deserve.”
In Moray, 27% of the 170 parents paying for their children’s upkeep through the government scheme had fallen behind – but that represented an improvement from 34% in the first quarter of the year.
About 30 parents are signed up to the scheme in Shetland, but 32% of them had their payments in arrears between April and June.
In the Western Isles, nearly half of the 30 parents involved were late in making payments during that period.
The best compliance rate in the UK was in Orkney, where only 22% of parents failed to pay.
The government payment service, Collect & Pay, is part of the child maintenance service which was set up in 2012 to replace the Child Support Agency.
The service can take money from a parent’s earnings or their bank account if they try to avoid payments, or take a parent to court.
The poorest record was in Tandridge, in England, where 51% of parents did not meet their obligations to their children.