Do I file as single or divorced this year?

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – When you are divorcing you will have a specified period of time before that divorce becomes final.  If you have children it is normally six months from the time the divorce was filed.  Often, that brings up questions regarding filing of income taxes.  Do you file jointly or singly?  Who gets the tax exemptions for any dependents?

Your marital status at midnight of December 31st is used to determine whether you will file as a single person or jointly.  If your divorce was finalized before December 31st, at midnight, you will file as a single person even if you were married for a portion of the tax year in question.  If your divorce is ongoing you may file jointly if you wish.

Which parent gets to take the exemption for any dependent children is normally a topic of negotiation in the divorce proceedings and often it will be specified in the divorce decree.  However, if it isn’t, the custodial parent gets the exemptions for any dependent children.  If you have joint custody, the parent who has the children for the greater number of days during that tax year gets the exemption.  (If you have been given the child exemptions in the divorce decree and have your children for less than 6 months there is a form you will need to have your ex-spouse sign for the IRS so consult with a tax specialist if this is the case.)  Filing early, if you are entitled to child exemptions, is a good idea in case your ex objects.  The IRS will then require him to prove that he is entitled to the exemption before they will accept it since you have already taken it.

If in doubt, always consult with a tax specialist especially since tax laws change periodically.

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