Filing for divorce and having that divorce finalized can have far-reaching effects on your taxes. They can change the way you file taxes, what kind of returns you get back and how much money you get back each year.
If you haven’t finalized the divorce yet, then you and your spouse can still file jointly. You will no longer be able to do so once the divorce has been finalized, though. Even if you are not divorced yet, you may not be able to file a joint return. In that case, you should be able to file as a head of the household. Once everything is finalized with the divorce, though, you will need to file as single.
When filing taxes, only one parent can name the child as their dependent. This is very important since whoever gets to claim the child also receive a $1,000 tax credit. If there is a custodial parent listed on the divorce decree, then the decision to claim or not claim the child is pretty cut and dry. Whoever has custodial control gets to claim the child. Without that decree, though, the decision is bit murkier, and you may need to consult the judge or a divorce attorney from an established law firm.
This applies to much of the child’s expenses as well. If you are the custodial parent, then you are expected to pay for that child’s education, medical bills and other expenses. You will be able to claim those on your taxes where applicable.
If you are paying alimony or child support following a divorce, then you can deduct those from your taxes when you file. The alimony only qualifies, however, if child support payments are written into your divorce settlement agreement. You cannot claim payments you made voluntarily as alimony payments. If you paid for medical bills for your child, even if you are not the custodial parent, you may be able to deduct those from your taxes, but it would be wise to ask a lawyer advice about what counts and what doesn’t when it comes to voluntary payments like these.
There are many other ways that divorce can affect your taxes, and you may not realize all of them on your own. It certainly complicates matters, and taxes are already complicated enough. That’s why it’s a good idea to file your taxes with a tax specialist for the first couple years following a divorce.