Because so many Americans have been impacted, both physically and financially, by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has recently issued a two trillion-dollar stimulus package to help those facing financial turmoil. Part of the stimulus package comes in the form of a one-time cash rebate of up to $1,200 for certain qualifying individuals. Of course, this is a sigh of relief for many individuals who are struggling financially. However, if you are currently behind on child support obligations, you may be wondering if your check will be forthcoming? Please continue reading and reach out to our experienced Bergen County family law firm to learn more about how child support arrears may affect whether you can keep your stimulus payment.
Will my stimulus payment be garnished if I owe child support?
Those who have received, or will receive a stimulus check and owe child support either because they lost their job due to the virus or otherwise may now worry that their check will have to be applied towards their outstanding child support obligations. Of course, these are unprecedented times, however, in the past, those who owed child support would have an order entered by the court that requires them to either pay the support directly or through the probation department. When this happens, the probation department will keep track of the child support payments made. When someone pays less than the amount they owe, child support arrears accumulate and result in an outstanding judgment. The probation department will then submit your info, including the amount of past-due support through the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to the Department of the Treasury. The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) permits a state’s child support enforcement office to collect on unpaid child support arrears. You will then receive a Pre-Offset Notice that shows the amount of past-due support you owe, and information about how to contest the debt amount.
While it remains uncertain as to whether the Department of Treasury will offset stimulus checks for child support arrears, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has issued correspondence stating that noncustodial parents who receive stimulus payments under the CARES Act may have the checks offset by past-due child support payments.
What if I file a joint tax return?
Typically, if your share of your tax refund as shown on your joint return was, or is expected to be, applied against your spouse’s past-due federal debts (including student loans), state taxes, or support payments, you are considered to be an injured spouse. This typically happens when the tax ID number of the person responsible for the tax liability triggers an offset of the entire refund. If you are entitled to injured relief, you may be able to get your share of the tax refund released to you.
For any additional family law questions, give our knowledgeable, compassionate Bergen County family law attorneys a call today.
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