What if I Owe Child Support Stimulus Checks?

Orange County family law attorneys

What if I Owe Child Support Stimulus Checks?


After divorce, some of the issues commonly brought to court are parenting time and visitation rights, possible spousal support (alimony), and child support calculation. Calculating child support, however, can be tricky. The child support laws that one must comply with can vary greatly, from state to state. According to the Child Support Services, child support guidelines in Orange County include the percentage of time that the non-custodial parent spends with the minor children. The gross income or amount of total wages of both the custodial and noncustodial parent, after all, applicable deductions, also factors into the actual child support amount.

The Basics of a Child Support Case

In child support cases, both parents fight for their rights as the family court works for a fair financial allotment for their children. While some parents had persisting problems and have long struggled to pay child support, doing so has become more difficult given the current circumstance. Due to the pandemic, many separated parents are dealing with financial hardship from reduced earnings or becoming unemployed. This led to a lot of missed child support payments, which can have a negative impact on those involved in a child support order– the recipient, the one making payments, and more importantly, the children. Credit ratings and certain freedoms can be affected and the upbringing of the child can suffer.

If you are having problems with an ex-spouse who is not paying child support, consult with credible Orange County family law attorneys. They can answer frequently asked questions on child support and explain what must be done to enforce child support, when necessary.


Child Support and Stimulus Checks

Non-payment of child support became a hot topic recently, in the context of a possible 4th stimulus check. A lot of people became concerned if tax and child support arrears can lead to a reduced or canceled stimulus paycheck. This article aims to answer the following related questions:

  1. What are Stimulus Checks and Why Should I be Concerned?
  2. Will I Be able to Get My Stimulus Check?
  3. How Does Garnishment of the Stimulus Checks Work?
  4. How Does Garnishment of Checks Work With Joint Tax Returns?


What are Stimulus Checks and Why Should I be Concerned?

Stimulus checks, which are regarded by many taxpayers as a much-needed handout, are meant to provide support during the pandemic. However, those behind on child support were concerned that they might not receive a check at all. Similar to paying taxes, child support payments are a legal obligation. As such, under the relevant statute, there are steps that authorities can take to make sure that payments are made.

If child support was ordered to be paid, then it must be paid promptly. Depending on the state law and any relevant guideline, recipients of child support might be able to file a “motion for contempt” in court. Contempt of court is a serious offense, and if the Judge finds that an individual has violated a court order, he or she may be sent to jail until missed payments have been made. A competent child support attorney can explain why making payments is not only a legal obligation but is really in the best interest of the child or children involved.

The Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU) can issue an order for the collection of payment through the following:

  • Wage garnishment, garnishment of earned income, or garnishment of assets, such as bank accounts or property
  • Liens on real property, such as house or land, or liens of items of value, such as vehicles
  • Collection from IRS income tax refunds,  gambling winnings, or state lottery winnings
  • Collection from unemployment compensation benefits, which may include stimulus checks


Will I Be able to Get My Stimulus Check?

Orange County family law attorneysIn the same way that back-payments for child support may be collected from federal tax returns, your stimulus check may be affected if you are behind on payments that you are obligated to make. Depending on the amount owed, the check may be reduced or canceled.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is an assistance program that provides qualifying single parents with a stimulus payment of $1,200, as long as their income does not go beyond $112,500. There is also an additional $500 for each dependent of that single parent who is below 17 years old, following information on tax returns.

To ease the financial stress of those in need, the legislation suspends garnishment of tax refunds for certain obligations, such as an arrearage for back taxes or past due student loans. It is, however, not applicable to delinquent child support payments. It is specified under the CARES Act that a stimulus check can only be offset for child support orders that have not been fulfilled.


How Does Garnishment of the Stimulus Checks Work?

Low income-individuals with children are among the most reliant on child support payments. Garnishment of stimulus checks is regarded as a way to ensure that the payments necessary to provide, care, and support a child are given to the intended recipients. The rationale behind this is that the best interests of the child always come first, and proceeding with non-payment is considered a serious breach of an order of the court. As such, your stimulus check will be garnished relative to the amount of back child support, particularly if authorities are made aware of it. Experienced Orange County family law attorneys can help explain this to you further.


How Does Garnishment of Checks Work With Joint Tax Returns?

Stimulus checks are generally based on either 2018 or 2019 tax returns. It might be helpful to keep in mind that the IRS works closely with the Office of Child Support Enforcement and is, as such, fully aware of those who are missing child support payments. Normally, if you file a joint tax return with a spouse who owes child support, the amount owed would be taken out of any tax rebate due.

Additionally, it is possible that an individual who files a joint tax return with their spouse, who is late with payments, may have their stimulus check or tax refund garnished, even if the spouse is solely responsible for the debt. 

For any inquiries on enforcing child support or collecting child support, contact our family law firm. If you are experiencing child support payment problems or have clarifications on related issues, such as establishing paternity or modification of child support, call us at Trevino Law. Our experienced Orange County family law attorneys can help you collect child support and deal with related issues, such as owed payments, and stimulus checks. Give us a call now.


Tips for Leaving an Abusive Relationship, Getting a Restraining Order and Building Your Life Again.

Get Your FREE Book Copy!

15 Ways to Protect Yourself When Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Mail a copy?

A guide to help make decisions about your divorce, and get peace of mind—all without leaving your home.

Get Your FREE Book Copy!

Divorce Lawyers

Trevino Law

Whether you’re dealing with legal affairs or planning for the future of your family, our Orange County family law and estate planning attorneys can help you take control of your life.