How Do Food Stamps Work in Shared Custody?

Food stamps help low income families buy food. Applicants and their household members are tested against federal guidelines to ensure they meet the requirements of the program. In cases where custody is shared, parents also share expenses for the child. If you are applying for food stamps and have joint custody, be sure you have an understanding of the program income and countable resource rules to avoid any penalties for fraud.

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Household

If your home is your child's primary residence, then she is considered to be a member of your household. However, if the child lives outside your home, she cannot be counted as a member of your household. The food stamp program defines a household as anyone living at the same residence who shares meals and expenses. If there are other family members or roommates living with you, you can count them on your food stamp application as well.

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Countable Resources

You must report all financial support received on behalf of your child whether court mandated or privately arranged. For example, child care expenses are counted as household expenses on your food stamp application. However, if you split the payments with the child's other parent, you cannot report the full cost of child care. The financial assistance from the other parent is counted towards your eligibility to receive food stamps.

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Income Tests

The income of everyone in your household is counted towards your food stamp eligibility. As of 2011, the maximum net income you can earn in a single member household is $903. This is equivalent to the national poverty level. The maximum you can earn increases with the number of members in your household. Having a child in the home allows you to qualify for food stamps on a higher income.

Penalties

Always submit accurate information to your caseworker. If your circumstances are subject to change, explain this to your caseworker when you complete your application. Send updates regarding changes to your income, your child's living arrangements and shared parenting expenses so that your caseworker remains abreast of the situation. You may be suspended from the food stamp program if you report false information or omit countable resources on your application.

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