In a recent post on the popular sub-Reddit forum Am I The A**hole, one mom shared that her ex-husband wanted a portion of her stimulus check meant for their kids, but felt she should keep the $4,200 payment from the federal government. While the anonymous mom was torn about her decision, folks on Reddit seem to be on her side.
Last week, eligible Americans started receiving a third round of stimulus payments after Congress passed a $1.9 trillion relief bill. Anyone making less than $75,000 a year, based on 2019 taxes, will receive $1,400 from the government. Parents will also receive $1,400 per eligible dependent. In the case of this mom on Reddit, she and her two children were entitled to $4,200, while the father of her children received his own $1,400 check.
The mom, who goes by the Reddit name u/PurpleDuck11, told the sub-Reddit forum that despite the fact that her ex received his own check, he would like a “cut” of hers “since it was money I was receiving for our children.”
In her post, the mom admitted that while she is not struggling financially but her ex is having a difficult time, part of the reason she does not want to give him a cut of her stimulus check is because he was unreliable paying child support. “[He] barely made a single payment for 2 years, just some extra cash here and there,” she wrote, adding that her ex doesn’t plan to use the money for their children. “When I asked him what he needed it for, he said to just to have on hand in case he needs it,” she shared.
Her ex has apparently threatened to “go back to court for half custody so that he would get ‘what he's entitled to,’” despite the fact that she says they already share custody of their two children, though he “does not pay” for things like their health insurance or school expenses.
This Reddit post brings up a potential dilemma for separated parents receiving stimulus checks, particularly when there is a shared custody order in place. As family law lawyer Melissa Avery explained to IndyStar, everything depends on which parent claims their children as dependents on their tax return.
“It's very common for a custody agreement, or court order to say, Mom has custody of Little Johnny and Dad is paying child support. And Mom gets to claim Little Johnny as her dependent in even-numbered years, and Dad gets to claim Little Johnny as a dependent in odd-numbered years,” Avery told the outlet. “So if that were the order, then Dad, even though he's not the custodian of Johnny, he would have claimed him in 2019. And he's going to get the stimulus money deposited in his account.”
In this case, the mom appears to have claimed their children on her taxes in 2019 and therefore received the stimulus payment for them. But should she be giving some of that money to the father of their children? Reddit weighed in. “The money is for taking care of the children and should be used for the children,” Reddit user u/Banzewrld wrote. “If he isn't paying anything for them then he doesn't need any money.”
“You are spending the money on the kids and he isn't covering his share of the costs,” u/Fraerie chimed in. “That doesn't entitle him to 'recover costs' of his child support payments, he's lucky you're not going after him for back pay on the payment he missed. Maybe tell him you're applying the kids stimulus money to his outstanding payments.”
“It's not an award for making babies, it's more of a stipend to provide for the needs of the child,” u/Jazmadoodle commented. “He isn't providing for them, you are.”
Ultimately, divorced couples are not required by law to split their stimulus payments for their children, according to divorce lawyer Nancy Perry Eaton. Even so, the latest round of stimulus checks are certainly going to bring up some difficult conversations for parents.