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What is my filing status?

Your marital status at the end of the year determines your tax filing status. If your divorce is finalized any time on or before Dec. 31, you file as a single, unmarried individual. If you have children, you may still file as "Head of Household" under certain conditions. 

If a divorce was not finalized by the end of the tax year, you may file single or jointly, though jointly filing may be more challenging. You can talk with your tax professional if you have more questions about the different filing statuses and your unique situation.

Do I need to change my W-4?

Your employer calculates your tax withholdings based on your W-4. Typically, married couples will jointly file to receive deductions and a lower tax rate. After a divorce, you may want to submit a new W-4 so your employer withholds a more appropriate amount of income from your paycheck. 

Can I deduct alimony?

According to the IRS, payments to or from an ex-spouse could be considered alimony for federal tax purposes if the divorce was finalized before the end of 2018.

The IRS relies on the following factors to determine if a payment might qualify as alimony:

  • You do not jointly file.
  • You no longer share the same household.
  • The payment is in cash (including checks or money orders).
  • The payment is made under a divorce decree or separation agreement.
  • The divorce decree or separation agreement does not designate the payment as something other than alimony.
  • The payment is not child support or a property settlement.

Alimony payments are no longer deductible for any divorces finalized after the start of 2019. 

Can I deduct attorney fees or other divorce expenses?

Although you cannot deduct divorce-related legal fees or court costs from taxes, you may deduct other divorce-related expenses. A tax professional can help determine which expenses qualify.

If you are seeking alimony, or have tax-related questions, you may deduct a portion of these legal fees. This may be claimed as a Miscellaneous Itemized Deduction on a Form 1040 Schedule A.

Does my spouse get the child credit and exemptions?

Generally, only one spouse can claim the child tax credit and related exemptions. This person is usually the custodial parent. The custodial parent is typically determined by the number of nights the child spends in the home of the parent or by what is set out in a Divorce Settlement Agreement. Parents who share custody may be able to agree to alternate claiming the credit.

Should I claim child support?

Child support payments are not tax-deductible nor are they considered taxable income for the recipient. Either parent, however, may be able to claim the child as a dependent if they are considered the custodial parent or if it is written in the Divorce Settlement Agreement.

If you have legal questions about divorce or separation, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice. If you need tax help, Rocket Lawyer can now match you with a tax pro for affordable and convenient tax filing services. Leave your taxes to a pro with Rocket Tax!

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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