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USDA takes steps to help improve child support compliance

Studies show that the poverty rate for children from single-parent families is significantly higher than for children who live in two-parent homes. Though there are measures that have varying success in ensuring that custodial parents receive child support payments, more may need to be done to improve the lives of these children. Texas residents who rely on assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may also benefit from increased compliance with child support orders.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently issued a statement requesting that individual states revise program rules to help enforce compliance with child support requirements. The agency is recommending that both custodial and non-custodial parents sign an agreement that they will seek to cooperate with existing support orders or will enter into an agreement regarding these essential payments. This recommendation would apply to both parties whenever either applies for benefits from the nutrition program.

According to the latest available data, less than half of custodial families have an agreement for support payments. Of those custodial parents who do have support agreements, many do not receive the amount to which they are entitled. The USDA is hoping to work with states to help close the estimated $13.5 billion deficit that these parents are owed collectively. 

There are opponents who are concerned that such enforcement could place children and custodial parents in harm's way. However, based on previous methods of seeking compliance with child support payments, officials believe the increased risk is negligible. Texas parents who are struggling to arrive at an agreeable solution to the issue of child custody, support or related family law matters may benefit from seeking the input of an experienced attorney.

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