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How Separated Parents Should Split Stimulus Money

In 2020 and 2021, the government provided cash payments to millions of Americans as a way to stimulate the economy and provide financial assistance to families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In most cases, the government deposited the stimulus money into the bank account on file with the IRS based on 2018 individual income tax returns.

For separated parents, who should get the stimulus money that was apportioned for the child?

The parent who claimed the child on his or her 2018 taxes, most likely received the stimulus money for that child. If there is an order in place allowing the parents to claim the child in alternate tax years, then the stimulus money needs to be split between the parents. If there is not an order in place regarding who gets to claim the child on taxes, but there is a child support order and the paying parent is current on child support, then the stimulus money should be split. If the paying parent is the noncustodial parent and not current on his or her support obligation for the 2020 calendar year, then the custodial parent should keep all of the stimulus money for that child.

These guidelines are what they are – guidelines, or “rules of thumb”. Without a court order specifically instructing the parties on how to split stimulus payments, it is best to consult an experienced family law attorney to address your family’s unique situation.