Stimulus Checks May Be Garnished For Child Support Arrears in Massachusetts

| Jul 3, 2020 | Child Support |

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Due to COVID-19, Massachusetts residents are experiencing difficult financial times. While there has been action by the government to ease financial burdens such as staying evictions and forbearing mortgage payments, the fact of the matter is that ensuring the receipt of child support during this time is critical.

Children need the financial support of their parents in good times and bad times. The coronavirus relief bill includes direct cash payments to help people through the crisis – but one red flag that can cost otherwise eligible Massachusetts residents money is owing past due child support.

When a parent does not make child support payments on time, the overdue payments are called arrears. In order to collect arrears there are various measures that can be taken against a parent that owes child support such as the following:

  • Jail
  • Driver’s license revocation
  • Seizure of bank accounts
  • Suspension of professional licenses
  • Suspension of passports
  • Seizure of a personal injury or worker’s compensation award
  • Conversion of the arrears to a collectible judgment
  • Reporting payor parent to a credit bureau
  • Creating a lien on real estate owned in Massachusetts
  • Seizure of income tax refunds
  • Seizure of lottery winnings
  • Placing a lien on real estate Tax refunds are seized

The federal government stated it will not garnish overdue federal debt obligations such as federal student loans or back taxes from coronavirus stimulus payments. However, the stimulus payments are subject to to seizure of private debt collectors if a judgment has been entered against you, and they are subject to garnishment for support arrears as well – just as an income tax refund may be seized of child support arrears are owed.

It is possible that stimulus payments could be seized, like tax refunds, to pay off child support arrears if those arrears are reported to the federal government.

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