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USDA calls for implementation of SNAP child support provisions

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs in Kentucky and around the country help nearly 40 million people put food on the table, and many of them are children. Studies reveal that 37% of the children in the United States who have a parent living outside the home live below the poverty line, and many of these children rely on food stamps to eat because their noncustodial parents do not make child support payments.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service is tasked with administering SNAP programs, and it recently sent a memo to state directors urging them to implement child support cooperation provisions that are authorized by SNAP regulations and the 2015 Food and Nutrition Act. These provisions allow states to deny food stamps to custodial and noncustodial parents who do not cooperate with child support agencies, but only a handful of states enforce them.

Opponents of child support cooperation policies question the wisdom of denying nutritional assistance to individuals with financial problems so severe they qualify for food stamps. Those who support the policies say that they prevent children from burdening taxpayers and offer a way to close the child support deficit. This is the difference between how much child support should be paid and how much is actually paid. Experts say that the current child support deficit is $13.5 billion.

Lawmakers in Kentucky take child support obligations seriously, and noncustodial parents who skirt their financial responsibilities may even face felony charges. Experienced family law attorneys may explain to custodial parents the various ways Kentucky pursues delinquent child support. They could also help them to navigate a process that can be confusing to those unfamiliar with government bureaucracy. When legal action is required, attorneys could petition for an income withholding order in family court so that noncustodial parents have delinquent child support deducted from their paychecks automatically.

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