COVID-19 (coronavirus) is affecting virtually every community in our region. According to the Virginia Department of Health, approximately 15,000 cases of COVID-19 have already been confirmed in the Commonwealth as of April 30th. The pandemic is both a public health and economic crisis. To help support families, federal legislators passed a financial support package that includes direct stimulus payments.
Recently, federal officials clarified that stimulus payments can and will be offset to cover delinquent child support—meaning parents who owe money may not receive a stimulus check. Here, our Northern Virginia child support attorneys provide a more comprehensive explanation of what parents need to know about stimulus payments and past-due child support.
CARES Act Authorizes Economic Impact Payments for Many Adults
Officially referred to as ‘Economic Impact Payments’, stimulus payments were authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Under the law, individuals making under $75,000 per year (adjusted gross income) are entitled to a one-time $1,200 payment from the federal government. Married couples with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less will receive a one-time payment of $2,400. The stimulus payments are gradually phased out for people with higher levels of income.
Federal Guidance: Payments Can Be Offset for Delinquent Child Support
For the most part, Economic Impact Payments will not be offset for a debt owed to federal agencies or state agencies. In fact, individuals who owe back taxes to the IRS, student loans to the Department of Education (DOE), or money to the Commonwealth of Virginia will generally still get their full stimulus payment.
However, past-due child support is the exception. As explained by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), federal law instructs the government to intercept stimulus payments to cover past-due child support owed in a case that is being actively enforced by the Child Support
Enforcement (CSE) program. Similar to how it handles a tax refund, the government can intercept stimulus payments to cover the delinquent child support.
Custodial Parent Will Receive the Funds—But It May Take Some Time
It should be made clear: The federal government is not simply keeping the stimulus money. All funds confiscated to cover past-due child support will be sent to the custodial parent. Of course, the process can be frustratingly slow—meaning it may take some time for a custodial parent to receive the additional stimulus funds that they are owed. While the timeline is still unclear, Virginia’s child support enforcement agency may be required to hold these payments for as long as six months before disbursing them to the custodial parent.
Understanding the Injured Spouse Exception
As was noted previously, stimulus payments will be sent jointly to married couples who file taxes together. This means that an individual who may not personally owe back due child support may have their payment intercepted to deal with their spouse’s child support issues. The federal government has a process in place for this issue. The non-delinquent spouse can file an Injured Spouse Allocation Form 8379 with the IRS—by doing so, they will be allowed to receive their half of the stimulus payment.
Call Our Virginia Child Support Attorneys for Help
At Contact Family Law Group, our Virginia family lawyers have extensive experience handling child support cases. If you have any questions or concerns about delinquent child support, our legal team is here to help. We invite you to tell us your story during a fully confidential initial consultation. From our office locations in Manassas and Fairfax, we serve communities throughout Northern Virginia, including Prince William County, Loudoun County, and Fairfax County.