Do I File My Taxes as Single or Divorced?

It's officially tax season, and if your divorce was finalized in December you may be curious about how to file your taxes. For individuals whose divorce is finalized towards the end of the year, they often have questions regarding filing their income taxes.

Do you file singly or jointly? If you have children, who gets the exemptions?

Here's how it works: Your marital status on December 31st is what determines whether you file as a single person or jointly. So, if your divorce was finalized by December 31st at midnight, you would file as a single person, even if you were married for a portion of that tax year.

If you were divorced on December 31, 2015, you would file as a single person. On the other hand, if your divorce was still processing in the courts on December 31st, you may file jointly.

Who deducts the children?

My divorce was finalized in December, so which parent takes the exemption for our dependent children? This is usually subject to negotiation during the divorce proceedings and it's ordinarily addressed in the divorce decree.

If for some reason it wasn't specified in a divorce decree, then the custodial parent gets the exemptions for the dependent children. If the parents have joint custody, the parent who has the children for more days out of the tax year gets to take the exemption.

Note: if your divorce decree gave you the child exemptions but you get the children for less than 6 months, you'll need to have your ex-spouse sign a form for the IRS, so consult your tax professional.

If you are in doubt for any reason, we suggest that you consult your tax specialist, especially since the laws do change periodically.

Looking for a Los Angeles divorce lawyer? Call Claery & Hammond, LLP for a free case evaluation!