The coronavirus relief bill enacted Friday includes direct cash payments to help people through the crisis — but one red flag that can cost otherwise eligible Americans money is owing past-due child support. Parents who owe child support won't immediately see the money. And in some cases, they may not receive it at all.
Under a 1996 law, the Treasury Department operates a program that allows state agencies to collect overdue child support by cutting or withholding federal payments as an offset. State child support agencies share information about people who are behind on payments with the Treasury Department. Payments from the federal government are then intercepted and directed to the parent who is owed.
The COVID-19 Economic Rescue bill passed Congress this week and was signed into law on Friday by President Donald Trump. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the checks should start going out within three weeks.
The cash transfers are available to U.S. residents with a valid Social Security number who reported making less than $99,000 — or couples earning up to $198,000 — on a recent tax return. The one-time payments max out at $1,200 per person with an additional $500 per child.
This is not the first time that parents owing child support have had to deal with intercepted stimulus checks. The Associated Press, in 2008, reported that more than 1.4 million stimulus checks given under the Obama Administration were seized in the Spring of 2008, and a total of $831 million was collected by child support agencies nationwide.
If you are a parent owing child support, we advise you to still file. Although you may not receive the payment, you can put a dent in the amount you owe, which is accruing at 6% per annum in the state of Texas.
If you are not working or if you've been laid off it's important that you contact an attorney immediately. You may be entitled to a decrease in your monthly child support obligation. Child support amounts CAN NOT be decreased without a proper court order signed by a district judge.
Call today (832) 408-0289