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Can Asset Division in a Divorce be Affected by Receiving a Stimulus Check?

Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March to provide some amount of financial relief for businesses and households across the United States during the COVID-19 crisis. People should have received stimulus checks or direct deposits, formally called 2020 recovery rebates. While these checks were not for a lot of money, any bit helps during an economic crisis, and many people put these funds into savings in case they needed the money for an emergency or another purpose. However, if you received a stimulus check with a pending divorce case, do these funds become marital assets that need to be divided as part of your divorce case?

Payments for Married Couples

Even if you are separated, the law considers spouses to be married until their divorce case is finalized by the court. This means that money that you receive will likely be considered to be marital property, which must be equitably divided in a divorce. Payments that you received as based on how you filed your taxes in 2018 or 2019, as follows:

  • If you and your spouse filed separate tax returns, you likely each received a $1,200 payment
  • If you and your spouse filed joint returns, you likely received one check for $2,400
  • Your household should have received $500 for each child you have living in your household

The above amounts apply as long as you are below the maximum income threshold, which is $75,000 per person or $150,000 for joint filers.

What Happens to these Funds?

Because stimulus payments will be marital property, they must be divided fairly as part of your divorce. If you filed separate returns and each received your own stimulus check, it might make sense for each of you to keep your individual payments. Of course, there might be circumstances regarding your property division that change this, and you should always discuss the matter with your attorney before you spend these funds.

If you filed jointly, one spouse might receive the $2,400 check or deposit, and it is important for the other spouse to get their fair share. In some cases, your spouse might deny receiving the payment to avoid splitting the funds. Fortunately, the IRS provides a tracking tool that shows you if and when the payment was issued.

The $2,400 becomes part of your marital estate, and you might decide to divide it equally while your case is pending or to wait and divide it with the rest of your assets and financial accounts. In either situation, the matter must be addressed as part of the property division process.

Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer for Assistance

How you divide your stimulus funds in a divorce will depend on your specific circumstances, and a Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Dotson & Taylor can advise you on the best way to proceed. Call 615-890-1982 or contact us online to set up a consultation today.