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Owe Child Support? Your Stimulus & Unemployment Checks Are at Risk

To date, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has sent out more than 150 million stimulus payments to the tune of $218.4 billion. Another 35 million checks are still waiting to go out. For those who are behind on their child support payments, however, it’s very unlikely that they’ll be receiving stimulus checks anytime soon – if at all. And to make matters worse, those who are also unemployed or furloughed may lose a portion of their unemployment checks, as well.

Child Support & COVID-19 Relief

Although the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act temporarily suspends offset of your stimulus check from past due tax debt and student loan debt, it will not protect your stimulus check if you owe back due child support payments. And, if you file married jointly, it can also put your spouse’s stimulus funds at risk. Even if an injured spouse allocation form was filed (2018 or 2019 ), there’s a good chance the IRS may withhold some or all of your spouse’s funds.

Generally, half of the total stimulus payment is sent to the injured spouse. Unfortunately, the IRS has recently experienced some technical issues. Many Americans who owe child support have seen not only their $1200 taken, but also the money they were expecting for their spouse and children. The IRS is working with the Office of Child Support Enforcement to resolve the issue, but when those payments will be returned is not known.

Unemployment Checks & Child Support

If you are among the nearly 16.4% of Americans who are unemployed or furloughed, and owe child support, you’ll still be expected to make your payments. It may seem unfair, but the courts will still enforce an active order, regardless of your current employment situation. This means that your state unemployment check, as well as the federal $600 weekly payment, can be garnished to cover the amount of your court-ordered monthly payment, as well as any back due amount. In most cases, only a percentage of your unemployment compensation is at risk (for example, Florida takes up to 40%), which means anything owed above and beyond that amount will go into arrears. Once you return to work, there’s a chance that your monthly payments could increase to cover any unpaid amount.

Child Support Modification

Not working? You can request modification of your child support order once every three years, or when there is a significant change in your income. If you lost your job due to COVID-19, you may request a lower monthly payment by filing a petition with the court. Since many have faced economic hardships over the last few months, your chances of approval could be higher than normal, but it’s not guaranteed. You could also speak directly to the custodial parent and come to a temporary agreement for lower payments. Just be sure to follow your state’s guidelines to ensure the agreement is compliant and filed correctly. This will help protect your future wages from garnishment, should the other parent decide to retract the agreement and demand full payment.

Get Help

Dealing with child support issues can be complicated and frustrating. For matters concerning payment modification, it’s best to consult an experienced attorney. For injured spouse relief, contact the experts at Tax Defense Network. We can help prepare your taxes and submit the necessary forms to ensure you get the money you deserve.