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Will My Divorce Affect My Stimulus Check?

| Mar 9, 2021 | Divorce

Near the end of 2020, legislators agreed upon a second coronavirus relief package for the country, sending out payments of $600 to eligible adults, along with $600 for each child. By now, most of us have received these stimulus payments, either by check or direct deposit. If you and your spouse are in the process of divorce or any type of financial dispute, your stimulus payment could cause some complications if not handled properly.

With tax season ramping up, we thought we’d answer some frequently asked questions about federal stimulus payments and divorce.

Does Tennessee consider stimulus checks marital property?

If you and your spouse are in the process of divorce but are still married, it’s likely your stimulus check is considered marital property. You and your spouse are free to negotiate between yourselves how to use this money on marital expenses, like paying shared bills or any mutually agreeable way. However – especially in the case of an ongoing divorce – neither of you should touch that money before notifying the other spouse. It is a shared asset, and if one spouse takes it without permission, they may find themselves paying back the other spouse during the asset division process.

My spouse and I aren’t divorced but are living apart. Who gets the stimulus payment?

Generally, your payment will go one of two places – either the bank account provided to the IRS on your last tax return (i.e., whoever filed as head of household), or to the spouse who received the payment in the first round of stimulus checks last year. If you and your spouse filled out a joint tax return last year, we recommend you talk to an attorney about what comes next.

Do child support issues affect my stimulus check?

If you receive a stimulus check and have outstanding child support payments, the Tennessee Department of Human Services will not offset your stimulus check. The IRS has additional information.

My ex-spouse got my stimulus payment. What do I do?

If you believe your stimulus payment mistakenly went to your ex instead of you, the Get It Back Campaign suggests consulting with an attorney or tax professional for experienced advice. You may also request a refund trace, which will show that the check went to your ex-spouse’s account, or that they cashed the check. You can use IRS Form 3911 for a refund trace.

Your divorce likely doesn’t move at the same time as the government’s calendar for stimulus checks and taxes. If you happen to receive a rebate or stimulus check for your ex-spouse, it’s important you forward those funds to your ex-spouse immediately, or contact their attorney as soon as possible for guidance. Failure to do so could land you in some legal hot water, whether your divorce is final or you’re still in the process.

The divorce attorneys at Shepherd & Long, P.C. provide informed guidance for family law matters in the Maryville area. We can help you sort through the financial implications of your divorce and ensure asset division is carried out equitably and properly. Call our East Tennessee office at 865-383-3118 or complete a contact form online to schedule a consultation today.