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What to know about filing taxes after a divorce

Divorcing your spouse brings with it certain inevitable changes, and one of those changes relates to the manner in which you file your taxes. The government taxes married couples differently from single filers. How you file your taxes will change upon the completion of a divorce.

The more you understand about how divorcing your spouse affects your taxes, the better. Here are some of the key things you should know about filing taxes in the wake of divorce.

Your marital status as of Dec. 31 is your filing status

Many people going through a divorce have questions about whether they should file as a single or married person for the year in which they split. Ultimately, your legal marital status as of Dec. 31 of the tax year for which you file is the status you must enter on your tax forms. Until you receive your final judgement of divorce, parties may still choose to file married rather than separate to receive the most in tax breaks.

Changing your name promptly is important

If you are a female who took your husband’s last name when you married, but you plan to revert back to using your maiden name after your divorce, do not waste time in notifying the proper authorities. The name the U.S. Social Security Administration has on record for you needs to match the name under which you file your taxes. Otherwise, you could wind up dealing with unnecessary processing delays.

You will need to determine who will claim any children

Following a divorce, you and your spouse also need to work through tax-related matters that may include, if applicable, who claims any children you share as dependents. Frequently, the parent with primary custody is the one to reap this tax benefit, but if you and your former spouse prefer an alternative arrangement, you may be able to make one.

Understanding how divorce affects your taxes can help you avoid making mistakes that can lead to unnecessary delays or hardship down the line. As tax season approaches, making sure your finances are in order can help you live happily ever after into 2019 and beyond.