How getting Divorced Affects your Taxes

Getting divorced is one of many life events that has a direct effect on your taxes.  Depending upon your situation, the effects may be very good, or very bad.  In divorce, some people may wind up paying taxes that have never had to pay before.  Others may wind up getting more money back than they ever dreamed.  It also depends how much your ex or soon to be ex spouse is willing to cooperate with you.  If your ex is willing to cooperate, everything should go fairly smoothly and easily.  If your ex is unwilling to cooperate, you may wind up in a battle with both your ex and the IRS.

The first thing you have to determine when you are getting divorced is your filing status.  If your divorce is not finalized, you will have to file as married, filing separately.  In some amicable divorces, the partners may even want to file jointly one last time, but this is often not the case.  Either way, you have to file as married until you are no longer legally married.  It is important to remember that only one of you can claim the children as dependents.  If you have 2 or more children, it may be a good idea for each of you to choose a child to claim so that both of you can take advantage of the child tax credits.  You may have to work this out between your lawyers if you are involved in a high conflict divorce. 

If you are already divorced and all the paperwork is final, you will need to file as head of household.  Again, children can be a tricky situation.  Normally, the person that the children are living with, or the custodial parent is the person that gets to legally claim the children.  However, you can have a clause written into the divorce decree that allows you each to take turns claiming the children, and it is actually best if you can have it written into the divorce decree so that you are legally protected if your ex decides to cause problems.

If you do not have children, everything becomes much easier.  In that case, you just need to file separately if the papers are not final, or file as head of household if the papers are finalized.  You may each have to pay more than you did while you were married, but in the end, you are free from one another and ready to move on with your lives.