Can a Mother Receive Food Stamps for a Child That She Doesn't Have Custody Of?

Food stamps are designed to help low income individuals and families supplement their food budgets. Stamps take the form of money deposited into an account to which a state-issued debit card is linked. The card is refilled monthly and can be used to purchase food at participating retailers. A mother can only claim food stamps for herself and for children she has custody of.

Food Stamps

Food stamps are designed to help people who can't afford to buy adequate amounts of food. Food stamps, although a federal program, are administered by states. Generally, a person applies either as an individual or as the head of a household. In the latter case, the applicant receives food stamps for the whole family.

Amount of Food Stamps

The amount of food stamps that a family receives depends on a number of factors. Foremost among them is the number of people in the household. The more eligible people within a household, the more food stamps funds will be deposited on the card each month. The individual who receives the food stamps must declare at the time of application how many people are in the household.


Generally, a household is composed of caretakers and dependents. If children do not live with their mother, then the mother cannot claim them as members of her household. Therefore, she can only claim food stamps for herself and for any dependents she is taking care of.


A child can only be claimed on food stamps once. This is because a child can only be considered a member of one household. A child can only be claimed for food stamps by the household in which he is living. If parents are splitting custody, he cannot be claimed by both parents. One parent must claim the child for food stamps and then, in some cases, share the proceeds with the other parent.