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How Might Tax Laws Affect Our Divorce Plans?

Tax laws - both federal and state tax laws - can and will affect a couple's divorce in many ways. Just as tax laws cover many aspects of a couple's life together in marriage, including employment and retirement, tax law has definite consequences in a divorce. For example, tax law affects matters such as:

  • property settlement
  • debt assignment
  • child support
  • spousal support and maintenance (alimony)
  • retirement funds
  • college education savings for children

Determine the Tax Consequences of Your Divorce

If you are considering getting a divorce or you are in the preliminary stages of obtaining a divorce, it's wise to determine now - as best you can - the tax consequences of your divorce. Every experienced divorce attorney has knowledge of the relevant tax laws in your state, and he or she may also have an affiliation with a specialist tax attorney for the most complex issues. These are the professionals to turn to for the detailed answers to your specific case.

The Timing of the Divorce Is Important

An important factor in the divorce/tax equation is the timing of your divorce. You may want to consider whether filing for divorce before or after the end of the present year is your best timing. The tax year is the same as the calendar year; therefore, for tax purposes, a husband and wife who are still married on Dec. 31 are considered married for the past year, a factor which may determine their tax filing status (e.g., joint vs. separate filing).

Another important point to keep in mind is that the IRS can audit the returns of ex-spouses who filed jointly when they were married. Although a divorced individual is not held responsible for the taxes incurred after the divorce by his or her ex-spouse, each ex-spouse will remain responsible for taxes incurred during the marriage.

Talk to a Divorce Attorney about Tax Law

To get more specific information about the effects of state and federal tax law on your divorce plans, consult an experienced family law/divorce lawyer in your state and county. He or she can address all of your concerns and goals regarding your financial situation.


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