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Changes to SNAP could help children

42308258_S.jpgParents in Missouri and elsewhere who benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, may need to enter a child support agreement to obtain benefits. This was according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture memo encouraging state leaders to enforce such a rule. There are roughly 40 million Americans who participate in the program, and many of them are children who live in homes with a single parent.

Often, these children live in poverty because noncustodial parents don't pay child support. By tying SNAP benefits to child support agreements, it aims to reduce the child support gap by about $13.5 billion. However, some argue that it could result in a noncustodial parent lashing out at a custodial parent, which would not benefit the child. This is why the USDA will allow states to review cases to determine if a forced agreement could cause harm to a parent or child.

Ultimately, closing the child support gap could play a role in reduced poverty and food insecurity rates among low-income families. Simply getting parents to sign an agreement may signal an improvement in a child's standard of living. In 2015, parents of roughly half of children labeled as poor did not have an agreement in place. Currently, 37% of children with only one parent at home live in poverty.

Child support agreements are among the family law matters that an attorney may be able to help with. Generally speaking, both parents are required to support a child financially after a divorce or separation. Legal professionals may be able to help parents learn more about crafting a support agreement or how to enforce one that already exists. Courts typically take support orders seriously and may punish parents who fail to comply with them.

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