How Divorce Affects Tax Filing Status, Dependents

How Divorce Affects Tax Filing Status, DependentsThe alimony deduction for federal income taxes has been in the spotlight this year because of looming changes to the federal tax law. As previously discussed, divorcees who finalize their divorce after December 31, 2018 will no longer be able to claim the spousal maintenance they pay as a tax deduction or be required to report payments they receive as taxable income. Child support payments are already treated in this way. People with existing divorce agreements or who finalize their divorce before 2019 should be able to continue using the alimony deduction (in which the payor is allowed to deduct alimony from their taxable income, and the recipient must report alimony as taxable income) indefinitely, although the long-term consequences of the new law are still unclear. However, there are other ways in which divorce affects how you file your taxes.

Filing Status

Your tax filing status may change if you are newly divorced or in the process of getting divorced. Whether you file as single or married will depend on when you divorced:

  • You must file as single if you were divorced by Dec. 31 of the year you are filing your tax return for; and
  • You may file as married or single if you did not divorce by the end of the year.

If you divorced since the new year, you may choose whether to file as married filing jointly or married filing separately for the previous year. Filing jointly can be advantageous because it has the lowest tax rate of any filing status. Filing separately has the highest tax rate. However, some divorced couples file separately so that they are not liable for each other after the tax return. If one party does not pay his or her share of a jointly filed tax return, the other party may be responsible for the unpaid taxes.


Only one parent can claim an individual child as a dependent after the divorce. Listing a dependent allows the parent to file as a single head of household, which has a lower tax rate than filing as single. The parent may also claim each dependent child as a tax credit. Normally, the parent with whom the children live a majority of the time is the one who can claim the children as dependents. However, the residential parent may allow the nonresidential parent to list the children as dependents if:

  • The parents agreed to it in the divorce settlement; or
  • The resident parent signs a tax form in which he or she agrees to not list the children as dependents.

As part of an agreement, divorced parents can also decide to divide their children as dependents for tax purposes.

Divorce and Taxes 

The timing and terms of your divorce can affect the amount of money you pay or save in taxes. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can explain the tax implications of your divorce. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.


Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174


 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187


Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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