How Family Law Could Affect Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check
by Taylor Joeckel
With April ending, and May’s bills coming due soon, many people are anxiously waiting to receive their stimulus payment. Under the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, passed last month, the Treasury Department will eventually send out 150 million stimulus payments to eligible Americans.
If you are currently going through a family law matter, you may be wondering how the law will affect your stimulus check. Here is information to help answer some of your questions regarding your stimulus check.
I am currently going through a divorce, who will get the check?
The check will be deposited into the bank account provided to the IRS in your previous tax filing. If you have not filed for 2019, the account used for your 2018 filing will be used.
Couples who filed jointly for the 2019 tax year but are currently separated may need to coordinate the division of the stimulus funds. If you cannot come to an agreement regarding the division of the stimulus check with your spouse, securing your portion of the funds may require the assistance of counsel.
If you believe your spouse has inappropriately withheld your portion of the stimulus funds, you will need to seek a court order and request an appropriate division of the funds.
I am currently in a custody dispute—am I eligible to receive stimulus aid for a dependent child?
Parents of dependent children under the age of 17 are entitled to an extra $500 per child on their stimulus check. The parent who claimed the child on the 2019 return, or the 2018 return if they have not filed for 2019, will be eligible for the $500 additional payment.
I am currently behind on child support payments—will my stimulus check be affected?
While the CARES Act suspends certain debts, such as back taxes or student loans, it does not currently apply to delinquent child support payments. The normal rules for child support are still in effect and state child support agencies are required to report past-due child support to the Treasury Department. As a result, a partial amount or all of your stimulus check may be intercepted by the Child Support Division of the Attorney General of Texas and will be provided to the custodial parent.
Additionally, if you filed jointly with a spouse that owes past-due child support, you may receive a reduced amount from the stimulus, or no check at all.
I am divorced and received my ex-spouse’s payment, am I obligated to transfer the funds to him/her?
If you received your ex-spouse’s stimulus check, you should forward the funds to your ex-spouse as soon as possible as the payment belongs to your ex-spouse. You may face consequences for violating federal law if you choose to keep the money.