How to file your taxes when going through a divorce?


When seeking divorce, parties often think of common items such as how the house should be divided? Should the home be sold, and if so how should the proceeds be divided? If not, who should continue living in the home? How will mortgage payments be made? Who will have custody of the children? Will there be a need for spousal support?  One of the things people don’t think about often until the last minute is how their taxes should be filed during legal separation and upon a final divorce decree.

Couples may not file a joint tax return during the year in which their divorce becomes final.  This is because your tax filing status is usually dependent on your marital status on the last day of the calendar year.  For instance, say the divorce does not become final until December 1, 2018, then the couple will be deemed divorced for all of 2018 for tax filing purposes. However, say the couple legally separates in May 2018 but their divorce does not become final until February 2019. The couple may or may not be allowed to file jointly for 2018 depending on the state you live in.

Some couples prefer not to file jointly during legal separation, even if it is an option, based solely on principle, while others fear being held liable for taxes or penalties related to the other spouse. However, there are many tax advantages for filing jointly if you can do so. It’s important you contact an experienced family law attorney who can help advise you of the advantages and disadvantages of filing jointly or separately based on your specific circumstances.

Authored by IRWIN & IRWIN.

IRWIN & IRWIN Family Law is located in Fullerton and Newport Beach, California.  We provide a full suite of family law services from divorce litigation, divorce mediation, child custody issues, domestic violence restraining orders and representing minors in court.  “Every situation is different, and some come with very complex financial issues.  Our legal team is here to support you during a very troubling time and prepare you for court, or to at least help negotiate or mediate the issues out to establish an equitable legal resolution,” says Kelly Irwin, Senior Litigator at the firm.