How will my divorce affect my income taxes?

Children:

When people who have children get divorced only one parent can claim the children on his or her tax return.

The tax exemption belongs to the custodial parent (the parent the children live with) unless that parent signs a release.

A release can cover a single year, multiple years, or all future years.

Filing Status:

Unless the parent is remarried, the custodial parent should file as “head of household,” and the non-custodial parent should file as “single.”

Final Return Dates:

Marital status is determined based on whether or not you are divorced as of December 31.

If you are not divorced by December 31, then you generally have two options when filing, “married filing separately” or filing jointly.

If you are divorced by December 31, then you generally have two options when filing, “single” or “head of household.”

Filing a Joint Return:

If you are not divorced by December 31, then you may file jointly with your spouse, even if you are legally separated.

Taxpayers have “joint and several liability” on a joint return. This means that you are responsible for any error on your tax return, even if it is your spouse’s error (including unreported income and improper deductions).

If you decide to file a joint return you cannot change your mind and file a separate return later.


We handle Maryland’s divorces on a daily basis and we’ve been doing it for more than 20 years. Call the Law Offices of David L. Ruben today for a free consult (410) 766-4044.

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