Divorce, Coronavirus, and Your Stimulus Check

Many people across the country are receiving stimulus checks from the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount each person will receive depends on your income. But if you are divorced or in the process of divorce, you may be wondering how that affects your stimulus payment. Let’s take a look at the payment breakdown and how things may change due to divorce.

How Much Money Does the Stimulus Payment Involve?

The breakdown of the stimulus payment stands as $1,200 per qualifying adult with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less.  Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less receive $2,400. There is also a $500 payment per qualifying child under the age of 16.

Taxpayers filing as head of household would get the full payment if you earned $112,500 or less.

How is My Stimulus Check Affected if I’m Divorced Now but Not When I Filed my Taxes?

The money you will receive is based on your 2018 or 2019 tax returns. If you have not filed a tax return for 2019, your 2018 return will be used.

If you were married when you filed your taxes, but are now divorced, any stimulus money will be direct deposited based on the bank information you listed in your 2019 taxes. If you haven’t filed yet, the information from your 2018 filing will be used.

If you filed jointly with your spouse for the 2018 tax year but are now separated and haven’t filed your 2019 taxes, you’re going to want to do it sooner rather than later. This way your status will be updated.

If you’ve filed your 2019 taxes jointly but have since separated, you and your spouse will have to agree on how to split the stimulus check. If you can’t agree, a court order will have to be issued to divide the money. The same goes for money received for any children if they were claimed as dependents when you were married. But, many times, the parent who has custodial custody or who claims the children as dependents will get that money.

How is My Stimulus Check Affected if I’m in the Process of Divorcing?

If your divorce is currently in process and you’re expecting a stimulus check, it should be counted in the divorce settlement.

It’s also important to note that if you haven’t filed your 2019 tax return, you should take a look at how different it is from your 2018 return. If your 2019 tax return would give you a bigger stimulus check, you’ll want to file as soon as possible so that you can get the most you can. If there would not be much different or if your 2018 return would yield more, it’s best to wait to file your 2019 taxes.

If you are in the process of divorcing and are expecting money back for any children under 16, this amount should also be counted into the divorce agreement.

Also, if you think your spouse is withholding any amount of the stimulus payments that you should be receiving, you will need to get a court order to request that money.

Keep in mind that the amount of this stimulus check may not be worth fighting over in court. The best solution is to try to come to an agreement with your ex. A couple of options you could consider are to either divide the check fairly now, or to hold on to it pending the final division of the whole marital estate if you are in the process of divorce.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.