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What to Know About COVID Stimulus Checks and Divorce/Separation

Americans receiving stimulus checks due to the COVID-19 pandemic might wonder what happens to this money if they are going through a divorce or separation.

Here is a quick overview of what you should know.

  • Disbursement: Stimulus funds will be disbursed in the same method as your 2019 tax refund, which means if you and your spouse or ex-spouse filed jointly on that tax return but since separated, the check will still be deposited into the same account, or mailed to the same address as your last tax refund. If you no longer have this account or cannot access it, you may need to seek other methods of recovering your stimulus.
  • Sharing: Whether you have to share the stimulus payment depends on the current stage of your separation or divorce. If you are divorced or separated and received your spouse or ex’s stimulus funds, you will need to seek legal advice on what to do with those funds. You should absolutely not spend those funds—there could be legal consequences for doing so.
  • Children: Stimulus payments include funds allocated for each child. Whoever claimed your children on their last filed tax return will receive the funds that were allocated for that child. However, if you did not claim your child on your tax return but will for your 2020 tax return, the stimulus check should not affect any refund or tax amount owed for that year.
  • In negotiations: If your divorce or separation is still in negotiations, the stimulus check could be used as part of negotiations or could be a topic of interest for issues such as asset distribution, alimony, child support and some custody issues.

Your best step is to work with an experienced divorce attorney to figure out how to handle stimulus money and how to ensure you get the money you’re owed. For more information, contact Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.