In December, legislators agreed to a second coronavirus relief package, with direct payments of $600 to eligible adults, plus $600 per child dependent. Many individuals and families have already received their stimulus payments, and other payments are on their way. However, for couples in the process of divorce or child support disputes, this stimulus check may cause further complications.
Following are some common questions and answers regarding stimulus checks and divorce.
My divorce is still in process. Who gets the stimulus check?
Your stimulus check will go directly to the bank account that was provided to the IRS in your last tax return, or will be made out to the spouse who received the check in the first round of stimulus payments. If your last tax return was a joint tax return with your spouse, it is best to consult with an attorney about your next steps.
Are stimulus checks marital property?
If you and your spouse are still married and in the process of divorce, a stimulus payment is likely considered a marital asset. If the payment goes to a joint bank account, you and your spouse can negotiate how to use it – pay shared bills, split it down the middle, or however you and your spouse agree. However, neither spouse should touch the money without notifying the other spouse, as it is a shared asset even during separation.
I owe/am owed child support. What happens to my stimulus check?
The spouse who filed as head of household for your last tax return will receive the entire check. However, if you owe child support to the custodial parent, normal rules are still in play. It is possible that some of the check will be intercepted by the Maryland Child Support Administration and applied to the outstanding balance. Find out more.
What if my payment went to my ex-spouse instead of me?
The Get It Back Campaign suggests a few options. If you believe your refund mistakenly went to your ex-spouse, consult with a tax professional or experienced attorney for guidance. You may also request what is called a “refund trace,” or IRS Form 3911. This can show that a check went to your spouse’s account instead of yours, was cashed by your spouse, or otherwise did not make it to your account. Remember to document everything when communicating with the IRS or a tax or legal professional.
I received my ex-spouse’s stimulus payment. What do I do?
Because the government does not move at the same rate as your divorce, you may receive a stimulus check long after your divorce is final. If you receive a check for your ex-spouse, we strongly advise you to forward the funds to your ex-spouse as soon as possible; you can do this through your attorney. Failure to return the monies can result in violation of federal law.
When dealing with taxes, federal payments and stimulus checks, it is important to “play by the rules” during your divorce. If you have any questions or concerns about your divorce, schedule a consultation with one of our family-focused attorneys at the Fulton family law firm at McCabe Russell, P.A. by calling 443-917-3347 or reaching out to us through our contact form today. We also have offices in Rockville, Bethesda, and Columbia.