Stimulus Checks and Divorce in 2021 –
How Stimulus Payments are Divided in Divorce Proceedings

The stimulus payments authorized by Congress this past spring have been a lifesaver for many individuals and families dealing with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief payments of $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples, and $500 for qualifying children have helped those who lost their jobs due to the crisis to pay rent, buy food, and support their children.  While beneficial, these payments could cause conflict when you are going through a divorce.

Many people have wondered what happens to a stimulus check when parties are going through a divorce—i.e., how does the payment get allocated?  The stimulus payment provides $2,400 for couples filing their taxes jointly.  This payment will be deposited into the account that was provided to the IRS on your tax return.  The easiest and most ideal situation is to split the payment evenly with your spouse 50-50.  However, if one of the parties needs the money more, one spouse can exercise goodwill and allow the other spouse to either keep the check in its entirety or the majority of the payment.  Another option is that the spouse could file a motion to keep more of the stimulus payments if their spouse owes them money, let’s say for child support, alimony, or temporary support purposes.

How are the Stimulus Checks Divided When You Have Children?

This analysis becomes more complicated if you have children. Dependent children under 17 as of December 31, 2020 each qualify for an additional $500.  The parents could simply divide the check equally with the additional payments for the children. The $500 stimulus increase per child is assumed to be directly associated with the Child Tax Credit that was claimed when you filed your taxes.  However, if one parent timeshares the majority of the time with the children, it may be beneficial for that parent to keep their pro rata share of the stimulus payment.  The parent who claims the child would also, in theory, receive the associated stimulus money.

On the other hand, for many, now may be an ideal time to show support to your co-parent by sharing the child portion of the stimulus check equally. For others, the funds may be mutually agreed upon to go to the parent who truly needs it most.  Parents are experiencing a great amount of stress, emotionally, physically, and financially.  Sharing your Stimulus Check could show goodwill towards your co-parent and help you both put your children first while surviving this crisis.

If you are not able to reach an agreement, you can use the services of the Thomas McDonald Law Firm to resolve the issue through court intervention.

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