When parents split up, as many California couples know, one main concern is how to provide for the children. With 37 percent of children who live in single-parent homes living under the poverty line, it is important to work towards providing the best support for them. The USDA’s new recommendations for states regarding SNAP benefits seeks to do just that.

The USDA is recommending that states institute child support cooperation agreements as requirements for either of the parents to receive SNAP benefits. While critics worry that this might put children and custodial parents at risk for violence and abuse from reluctant non-custodial parents, supporters believe this is an important step towards closing the gap between what children and custodial parents nationwide are owed in child support payments and what they are actually receiving. Additionally, the recommendations include exceptions as each case should be closely monitored to ensure that forcing a child support agreement is in the best interest of the child.

In the past, 60 percent of parents had child support agreements set up, but that number was less than 50 percent for families living below the poverty line in 2015. This type of requirement might work towards increasing the percentage and helping children live the healthiest life possible. As an important part of family law, child support agreements are often negotiated when the parents are in the process of splitting and want to make sure their children continue to live stable, healthy lives.

Parents may also want to consult a lawyer with family law experience to explain legal choices to them as well as help them plan for a fair child support agreement. The lawyer might offer representation in negotiations and during court appearances as well as additional support throughout the process.