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The Effect of New Jersey Divorce on Coronavirus Stimulus Checks


The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service began distribution of stimulus package payments to offset the profound economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s important to understand that your recent New Jersey divorce could impact whether you receive that check.

The relief bill allows for cash payments of up to $1,200 per-person and $500-per-child. Those with outstanding student loans, tax payments or other debts should still receive a check. Direct deposit payments have already been issued, and the first round of paper checks have gone out. However, as our Freehold divorce lawyers noted in a previous entry, individuals who owe outstanding child support may not receive their payments or those payments might be offset by the outstanding amount. Those funds, if intercepted by the Treasury Department, will instead go to the custodial parent.

But what if you were married for your 2018 or 2019 tax filing, but are no longer? Or if you’re married but separated?

Stimulus Disbursement Based on Most Recent Tax Filings in 2018 or 2019

The U.S. Treasury Department statements on the CARES Act indicates funding will be issued based on information supplied from your 2019 tax filing. However, if you have not filed for your 2019 taxes (the deadline for which has been extended until mid-July) then your 2018 filing will apply.

If you filed jointly with your former spouse in 2018 but have since separated, your best course of action is to file for your 2019 taxes as soon as possible and notify the IRS that you have updated your status to either separated or single.

If you have already filed jointly for 2019, it’s not likely the IRS will have updated information if you have separated since. That means the stimulus funds may end up in your ex’s bank account – or theirs in yours.

The $500 allocation for each child will go to whoever claimed the children as dependents.

What if My Ex Got My Stimulus Check?

This is an issue that has already cropped up in New Jersey. The hope of course is that people will do the right thing by mutual agreement in these unprecedented times and fairly distribute the funds. Each adult should receive the amount that has been allocated for them. If you filed jointly, but one spouse has primary custody of the children (16 and under), it may make for sense for the primary custodian to retain all or a larger portion of the $500-per-child funds. (Note: This will not offset owed child support.)

Unfortunately, our Freehold divorce attorneys know fair distribution won’t happen in every case where this circumstance arises. In some situations, it may not be safe for you to even attempt to negotiate this on your own. Although courts may be able to provide relief, understand that it may take some time.

A faster resolution may be possible simply by having your divorce attorney contact your ex to work out a fair agreement. The same is true if you’re in the process of getting a divorce, particularly if you’re in urgent need of those funds.

You should receive a paper notice indicating where your payment went and in what form. You can check on the status of your payment by visiting the IRS website.

If you have questions, our divorce attorneys are available to help answer your questions via phone call or video conferencing.

Contact us at (732) 810-0034 or email us through our website.

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