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USDA promotes linking SNAP benefits to child support

Almost 40 million people in Virginia and around the country receive benefits administered by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to help them pay for food. The rules governing the program, which is sometimes referred to as food stamps, are laid down by SNAP regulations and the Food and Nutrition Act of 2015. The rules allow states to deny SNAP benefits to custodial and noncustodial parents of children under the age of 18 when they refuse to cooperate with support agencies, but few states actually implement these restrictions.

On May 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a memorandum to the directors of SNAP programs in all states urging them to implement child support cooperation requirements. Advocacy groups strongly support this position because more than one in three children in single-parent homes live in poverty. Many of these children remain in desperate situations because their noncustodial parents do not pay child support or only make payments intermittently.

The goal of the USDA memo it to close the $13.5 billion child support deficit. This is the difference between what noncustodial parents in America owe in child support and the amount they actually pay. The push for implementing child support cooperation provisions has its critics; these advocates say that the requirements could foster anger in noncustodial parents and place children in danger.

Experienced family law attorneys may help custodial parents in Virginia who are not receiving court-ordered child support payments by pursuing the remedies available under state law. Noncustodial parents who shirk this responsibility may be unable to renew their driver's licenses and have their income tax refunds seized. Their behavior could also be reported to the major credit reporting agencies, and liens may be attached to their personal property. Attorneys might also petition the Division of Child Support Enforcement to deduct delinquent child support from paychecks or unemployment benefits.

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