How to Handle the Stimulus Check for Child(ren) in Divorce/Custody Cases
Every person who has a child will be receiving $500 per child from the federal government. This is based upon your 2019 tax return, if filed, or your 2018 tax return, if you have not yet filed your 2019 taxes. However, as I understand it, this check will go to the parent who claimed the child. Who claims the child or children is often alternated in divorce or custody decrees, so whomever last claimed the child(ren) will receive the check.
So how should these funds be divided?
The honest answer is I don’t know and we have no legal authority on this as this is unprecedented. I have not yet had a judge make a decision on this issue. As soon as I do, I will be sure to provide an update.
But here is my two cents as a family law attorney:
If you share joint custody, regardless of who claims the child(ren), the total amount received should be split. This is regardless of if a parent pays child support. You both have the right to equally receive the benefit.
Now, what if one parent has primary custody and the other parent has visitation, how should the funds be divided? Should it go to the primary parent? But the other parent pays child support, so they should receive some of the benefit as well as they too are supporting their child? This, I think will be tougher to figure out. What I would advocate for that I believe is fair is that if the non-custodial parent is current on their child support, the money should be split. They both have and are complying with their financial obligation to support their child(ren). If the non-custodial parent has child support arrears, like with any other tax refund they receive, the half they would receive should be applied to the arrears owed. This should actually be the case if there is child support arrears regardless, even if the parties share joint.
So in sum, the amount should be split, and if one parent owes child support arrears, their half should go to the arrears.
Now a third scenario, what if you are still married but in the middle of a divorce and not living together, what do you do with that money? You are married until divorced in the state of Nevada, and this is community money, so there is no question in my mind this money should be equally split between the parties.
Again, this is based upon opinion and not law, as we have no law on this. What are your thoughts?
And if you have an ex how is being difficult about the stimulus funds, please feel free to give me a call at 775-622-9245 and I am happy to help.
Andriea A. Aden, Esq.