Could Your Divorce Cause Your Stimulus Check To Be Hijacked?

Stephanie Vokral |

Many Americans expected their COVID19 stimulus check from the government to arrive this past week.  Sure, these funds are a great help for families, but what if your family looks very different this year than it did last year at tax time?

The checks are being issued by the IRS, and if you chose direct deposit with your 2018 taxes, the funds will be deposited into that same account.  This means, if you were married, filing jointly in 2018 and had your refund deposited into a joint account with your ex-spouse, the deposit will still go into that same bank account. 

Back up a little! What if you did not use direct deposit in 2019?  This is the easiest solution and has the easiest fix.  Visit the IRS website and complete the Get My Payment application with your new deposit information and mailing address to let them know where your funds should be sent.

But what if you already filed your single 2019 taxes?  Good news!  This is also a good spot to be in.  If you already filed separately for 2019, your payment may have already been mailed to your or direct deposited. 

Now, what if you did use direct deposit and you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes yet?  What if the direct deposit account is now solely in the custody of your ex-spouse? What do you do?  Stimulus checks have already started to go out, and if you are the spouse that kept the account, you may already have the funds.  If not, your only option is to reach out to your ex to get your funds returned.

If you are not in the group of people that has already received payment, the IRS has instruction on your next steps here.  Maybe you are in the group that needs to file taxes electronically as soon as possible to update the system, or maybe you are in the group that needs to wait for a paper check to arrive.  In either situation, check the IRS website ASAP.

What if the bank account has since been closed? If this is the case, you may need to be on the lookout for a paper check in the mail.  The most important thing to do is to visit the website linked above to check your payment status and see what they are instructing you to do.

Although it should be relatively easy to get funds that may have deposited to an ex that were meant for you, what if you have multiple children?  Did your ex receive a deposit of $1,000 in the old joint account for your two children?  Are you splitting the stimulus equally, or should you split it in proportion to parenting time? 

These scenarios may even bring up new issues that require mediation to work out.  If you are facing any of these things and need to discuss your options, please reach out and let The Financial Knot help you!  We are available even during the quarantine via a virtual meeting or phone call to assist with any questions you may have.  We can help you find a solution even from the confines of your home.