Many people in North Carolina rely on food assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. This government program serves an average of 40 million people across the country, helping them to make ends meet and receive assistance with basic nutrition needs. In many cases, SNAP recipients are single parents raising their children. Around 37% of children living in single-parent families are also living in poverty.
There are a number of complex causes for these children’s poverty, and SNAP makes only a small dent in the burden borne by their parents. Some argue that one major cause of poverty in single-parent households is the failure of non-custodial parents to pay child support or fulfill their obligations under an existing support order. However, less than 50% of all poor single parents with custody of their children even have a child support order in place. In some cases, these parents have less access to and time to deal with the legal system to obtain a support order. In other cases, they feel that their informal support agreements with the other parent will be endangered by going to court.
Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is encouraging state program directors to implement a child support cooperation requirement in order to receive SNAP benefits. This would require recipients to participate in the child support process, including reaching a formal child support agreement where none currently exists or paying according to an existing court order. They argue that this additional requirement will help to obtain unpaid child support and reduce poverty for children.
When single parents do not receive child support, they may struggle to make ends meet and provide for their children’s needs. A family law attorney may help a custodial parent to obtain a child support order or enforce an existing one.