Divorced and single parents living in Alabama may face financial challenges. As a result, they may qualify for various types of benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program commonly referred to as SNAP or food stamps. This program provides food assistance to families and individuals in need. The United States Department of Agriculture is the federal agency responsible for managing the program, although benefits are administered by state human service agencies.
Recently, the USDA sent out a directive to state agencies encouraging the implementation of a policy that would require both custodial and noncustodial parents of children to enter into an official child support agreement as a condition of receiving SNAP benefits.
The rationale for this directive is that parents have a responsibility to either provide financial support or seek support for their children. The assumption may also be that, in some cases, a reasonable level of child support may provide the income that a household needs to leave the SNAP program.
Some experts are concerned about the enforcement of such a directive. A primary worry is that some custodial parents would prefer to not enter into any kind of an arrangement with the other parents due to abusive or criminal behavior.
Proponents of the policy argue that it already offers a provision for custodial parents establishing that they have good reason to not want contact with the other parent. It remains to be seen how this provision would actually be addressed in individual state agencies.
Parents who are concerned about child support issues may benefit from speaking with an attorney who is experienced with family law. A lawyer may review any current child support agreements and make recommendations regarding moving forward with a legal case.