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Divorce and Taxes: When Should You File Alone?

For anyone, regardless of your situation, filing taxes is often a daunting task. In the U.S. there are five basic options that you can choose from. These five options include:

  • Single
  • Married filing separately
  • Married filing jointly
  • Head of household
  • Qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child

Figuring out the filing status you should use will depend on several factors. Your marital status on the final day in December will dictate the marital status you claim on your taxes for the year. If you had a divorce that was finalized on or before this date (December 31st), then you don’t have the option to file jointly.

However, if your divorce isn’t file, then you can choose single under specific circumstances, married and filing separately, or married and filing jointly.

According to Code 7703 (a) (2), if you are legally separated from your spouse under either a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, you are not considered married and you can file as “single.” However, you should not assume that you are legally separated just because you aren’t living together, and you have planned a divorce.

The IRS has very strict requirements regarding if you are “legally separated. It’s a good idea to verify your status with a divorce lawyer.

Important Considerations for Filing Taxes Separate from Your Spouse When You Are Going Through a Divorce

Choosing to file separately (but not filing as “single”) is smart for some situations. For example, if your spouse or you’re soon to be ex has current or past legal problems, credit problems, or tax issues, filing separately is a smart move.

Also, if you choose to file jointly, then you are 100 percent responsible for the representations on the tax return. If your spouse doesn’t report all their income, you are also responsible for this, along with any tax liabilities that it causes. If you are concerned about the tax debts your spouse has, you can avoid this problem if you continue to file separately.

Divorce, Children, and Taxes

If you choose to file separately, you need to talk about your children. You can’t both claim them as an exemption. While this is true, one of you should.

Also, only one person should claim the childcare credit, if you are eligible. You will have to determine who is claiming the exemption if it was not outlined in your separation documents.

Contact an Attorney for Help

It is a good idea to talk to a Florida family law attorney about the situation you are in to determine what options you have. Hiring an attorney who fully understands the tax codes will help you figure out the right approach for you and for your family.

In some cases, your situation may be improved if you file jointly. In other cases, married and filing separately is best. There are other situations where single will be the right designation.

Remember, the IRS will allow you to deduct part of the fees that you pay for any tax advice. This includes the fees that are spent analyzing your divorce may impact the tax obligations that you have. A qualified family law professional can be an invaluable help and investment. To learn more, contact Lewert Law, LLC by calling (561) 544-6861.