Sun. Feb 5th, 2023

More times than not, single parents will be including their children on the application, however they do have an option to apply individually.
Child support and food stamps have a very important and intertwined relationship. According to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities near one-fifth of all SNAP households with children receive child support payments.
More times than not, single parents will be including their children on the application; however, they do have the option to apply individually. It is important that parents know how the child support they are receiving or paying will affect the outcome of the decision.
For instance, when a parent receives child support, (court-ordered or not) it is considered income. Likewise, if they are not receiving the payments, it is not considered income. When a parent is paying court-ordered child support, it is deducted from their total income. If the parent pays child support not mandated by the courts, those payments will not be taken off their income.
This quick guide will go on to discuss the relationship between the two, whether you are a payer or payee, so you can make the best decision regarding your family and circumstances.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, if a parent is getting any form of child support that is ordered by the courts, it HAS to be claimed as income. The courts favor children getting child support before state assistance. Child Support itself is to go towards taking care of the child, since feeding them falls under those criteria, the child support is income to feed the child with.
If a parent has an order in place but is not getting the support, they do not have to claim it. The state can go in and see if they are getting it or not, but it is always best to be upfront and honest. If they do start getting support payments at some point, they can contact them, and they can proceed accordingly with an adjustment.
If a parent is getting child support that is not part of a court order, they still legally need to count that towards income. The USDA states all of your answers when applying for SNAP must be complete and honest. If you knowingly give false information or intentionally fail to report required information, you may incur substantial penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and removal from the program.
If a parent has a court order to pay child support and then wants to apply for assistance, the amount they pay in support is deducted from their total income. So just as the payee adds it to theirs, the payer deducts it, because it is no longer in their possession to use for food or anything else.
Related:
Is Child Support Affected If My Ex Remarries?
If a parent is paying to help support a child through an agreement made out by the courts, and they would like to apply for SNAP, they cannot deduct what they are paying from the total income. The bottom line is the state has no way to prove they are paying what they say they are and if they will continue to pay it. Again, this could end up in fraud charges and back pay if a parent is not being honest.
This is where things get a little more complicated. As mentioned above, courts favor child support over state assistance. If a parent applies for assistance stating that they do not get support, and there isn't even an order for support, the state can and will open a child support case on behalf of the child.
As an example, two parents have an informal set-up where one just pays what they can when they can. The other parent would not necessarily claim that as income because it is not stable. The courts want stability for the child.
It would not be up to either parent, they would ask for the right to sue for child support.
According to The USDA state agencies have the option to disqualify an individual if they fail to cooperate with the Child Support Agency in establishing paternity of the child and obtaining support for the child or the individual and the child.
Sources:
Child Support Cooperation Requirements in SNAP Are Unproven, Costly, and Put Families at Risk
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Data: Why Disclosure Is Needed
Importance of SNAP and Child Support Payments to Child Food Security and Well-Being
US Department of Agriculture
Sarah is the mother of four boys, all born very premature. Two singletons and twins. She is very passionate about raising awareness for prematurity and mother’s mental health. One of her sons has special needs as well. She has seen a different kind of motherhood than most, but very much enjoys writing articles to help parents of all kinds.

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