How Does My Divorce Effect My Stimulus Check?

During these unprecedented times of 2020, we are receiving many questions about the stimulus check being received by parents who are now separated or divorced.  Who should get the $500 per child?  What if one person has received the other person’s money?  

This article will take a look at some of the common questions we are receiving.

The US Congress passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to assist Americans dealing with the financial difficulties brought about by the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020;  An individual may receive up to $1200, a married couple receive up to $2400, and a parent may receive an extra $500 for each child under 17.

The government is basing the payments on the information from a person’s 2019 income tax return.  If the 2019 return has not been filed, then the government is using the 2018 return information. The government is making a direct deposit into the banking account used with tax returns.  Thus, it is possible that a couple who filed a joint return in 2018 but is now separated, may have had a deposit of $2400 into just one person’s account.  The recipient should forward the $1200 to their former spouse.

The $500 per child will likely be given to the party who filed as head of household or whichever party claimed the child as dependent on the last filed return. Parties may agree on how to divide these monies.  There might be controlling language in their court order or separation agreement that addresses funds like this.  If the parties have not yet signed a separation agreement, there could language added to the agreement to address funds like this.

If you think your ex- spouse has inappropriately withheld monies, you can seek a court order to request payment of those funds from your former spouse.  Unfortunately, you should consider the cost associated with that type action with what the final result will yield.

Child support paid by a parent is based on income.  Many are asking, does the stimulus related money factor into income for child support purposes?  No, it does not.  Stimulus checks are advance refunds for a future tax credit.  So, a person’s receipt of stimulus monies should not be calculated as income for child support purposes. And, this is a good time to remember that a modification in child support requires a 15% change in income and the passage of 3 years since the prior amount/order was entered.  

If you have questions about child support during this time, please see our other information on our website and join us on our next webinar.