Taxes can't be any trickier than they already are when associated with
divorce. It's earth shattering, really. Why? Because the timelines get all
screwy. For instance: if you were married up until late December and your
divorce was finalized before the new year, you actually can't file
as married come April of that next year. Likewise, let's say you get
divorced around the first quarter of a particular year; even then, you
can still file your taxes as married for the
next year. I understand: you're confused. Allow me to explain.
Depending on your situation, this may be a good thing – or a bad
thing. To avoid all the confusion, though, you have a third option. Instead
of filing as single or married, why not file as "head of household"?
You'll see it there on the IRS forms. The point of the "head
of household" status is that you often do it as a single person (not
living single), but someone stuck in the middle of divorce might actually qualify
for this as long as you've lived apart from your spouse for a particular
period of time.
Additionally, you have to show that you've paid over half the cost
of the upkeep to your residence, and you have to be able to claim dependents
under the household, such as your children. A separate tax return from
your spouse is also necessary, even if you're still married under
the law, no matter how badly you want to get divorced. Yes, this means
you may have to sit with your accountant and your soon-to-be ex-spouse
to go over the financial details.
The basic rule of thumb when dealing with taxes, especially when marriage
(or divorce) is concerned, is this: stick with the calendar. Taxes go
majorly linear, no ifs, ands or buts about it. The chronology is there.
Follow it. Take this advice seriously, too, because undoubtedly you may
save some money on your taxes and get a pretty decent return. That will
always make the situation somewhat better!