Divorce brings with it inevitable change, and separating from your spouse often means new living arrangements, new child custody arrangements and a new social life, among other possible transitions. Divorcing your significant other also has important ramifications, come tax time, and recognizing how your divorce impacts your taxes can help you avoid making unnecessary or unintentional errors that can come back to bite you.
So, if you went through a divorce this year, there are certain steps to take and things to know before you file this year’s taxes. So, before you file your taxes post-divorce, there are a few pieces of information you should know.
Failing to change your name can cause delays
If you plan to change your last name following your divorce, you may want to do so promptly, because your legal name needs to match the one the U.S. Social Security Administration has on file for you. Changing your name can prove to be an involved, time-consuming process, but failing to do so once your divorce becomes final can lead to unanticipated processing delays, denied tax credits or deductions, and related problems.
You cannot both claim your children
After you split from your spouse, you and he or she will need to figure out who is going to claim any children you share as dependents, come tax time. Typically, the parent who has primary custody over the children will be the one to do so, but this does not necessarily have to be the case.
Using the right filing status matters
Married people typically use either “married filing jointly” or married filing separately” statuses when filing their taxes. However, if your divorce becomes final before Dec. 31 of the year for which you file, you need to file your taxes as a single person.
Filing taxes after divorce involves special considerations, because major life changes can have major tax implications. Making sure to cover your bases can help you avoid delays and other potential problems before they arise.