Coronavirus stimulus checks will be seized for owed child support

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some parents are facing the reality that they may not receive a stimulus check from the federal government at all. 

The IRS began sending out cash last week as a part of the CARE Act coronavirus relief package. Adults who make under $75,000 annually can expect $1,200 to be deposited into their bank account or sent via mail over the next few weeks. They can also expect an additional $500 for each child. 

But those who owe child support may have portions of their money intercepted.

“Our court and most of my colleagues at the state level really were not for this, but at the federal level is where they decided they want this to happen,” Dan Fojtik with Kent County Friend of the Court told News 8 Wednesday.

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The CARE Act has exemptions for student loan debt, spousal support and back taxes, so people who have those debts won’t be penalized. But the process of intercepting money for child support will be automatic.

“As far as I know, it’s going to be tied into the same criteria for the tax refund offset. If you owe $500 or more on a non-state aid case, it’ll be intercepted and it will only be intercepted up to the amount owed,” Fojtik said.

For families that qualify for government assistance, money will be intercepted if the payer owes $150 in past-due support. Fojtik said he is unaware of any limits on the amount of money that can be taken, so entire stimulus sums could be absorbed if the amount owed is equal to or greater than the check.

“Most of this money is going to go to the custodial parent. It’s not just state-owed monies. So it should help custodial parents get through this rough period,” Fojtik noted.

He said that while the policy helps one parent, he doesn’t believe taking money from the other parent during this time makes a lot of sense.

“We understand that noncustodial parents are having a rough time, too, and we want to make sure that everybody gets through this. Hammering on somebody who’s down, who may be out of work isn’t going to help them get back on their feet,” he said.

Kent County Friend of the court says it can’t make any exemptions for parents because the decision was made at the federal level. More information can be found on the agency’s webpage.

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