Who Is Entitled to Receive the Stimulus Check During a Divorce?

April 29, 2021

By now, qualifying Americans have received up to three stimulus checks. These checks, called “economic impact payments,” are designed to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re issued based on your prior tax returns: how much income you make and how many people are in your household determine how much you’re entitled to receive. Problems arise when you’re going through a divorce. Who is entitled to get the money, and how much? What if things have changed since you last filed a tax return? In most cases, it’s best to consult a tax professional and a family law attorney in Miami, FL for guidance.

Consult a family lawyer and tax professional

When it comes to money and divorces, it’s always best to consult a professional whenever possible. You should already have a family law attorney, but you may also want to hire a tax professional to help. Stimulus checks are based on your 2018, 2019 and 2020 tax returns, based on when you filed. If you were already separated when you last filed your return, it’s likely you’ll receive your check at the address on file with the IRS. However, if you were still married when you last filed a return, that can present a problem.
If the stimulus check is withheld to pay back child support or alimony, you will probably not be able to get it back. However, that’s not always the case. The best way to determine what you are entitled to is to talk to your lawyer and accountant.

Document everything you can

If you believe your spouse received your stimulus check, and they haven’t willingly turned it over, you’ll need to document everything. Keep records of your bank transactions. Check the IRS “Where’s My Payment?” website to see where it says your check was sent—take screenshots as documentation. Keep notes of all meetings you’ve had, all calls with the IRS and all actions you’ve taken—including those with your lawyer and accountant.

Together, with your attorney and tax professional, you can file a refund trace (Form 3911). This should prove where the stimulus was sent, how it was deposited and when.

What to do if you’ve received your ex’s stimulus check

If you’ve received your former spouse’s stimulus check, call your attorney first. Not turning over your ex’s portion of the stimulus could come with serious legal consequences. Your attorney can guide you through best practices for turning over the money in a timely fashion.

Remember, if you two share children, the person who claims the children on their taxes is entitled to the child stimulus payment. If your spouse is the “primary parent,” you’ll need to give that money to them as well.

For help understanding your stimulus entitlements and obligations during a divorce, talk to a family law lawyer in Miami, FL. Get in touch with the Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler today to arrange a consultation. We look forward to meeting with you to discuss the particulars of your case.

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