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The tax implications of divorce, part one

Although there is still more than a month until the federal income tax filing deadline of April 17, many Georgia couples have likely begun the long and often-complicated process of preparing their tax return. While taxes can be confusing on their own, they become even more so if you are going through a divorce or similar life event.

One of the most basic questions many divorcing or recently divorced couples have is whether they should file their taxes jointly or as individuals. Under the tax code, you must file your taxes according to your marital status as of the end of the previous year. This means that, if you were still married to your spouse on December 31, 2011, you must file your taxes as if you were married.

However, you may still choose between "married filing jointly" or "married filing separately." The latter may be the best option if you have any concerns about your spouse's income, or if you suspect that he or she is attempting to file a fraudulent tax return.

Whether you are able to claim deductions for your children largely depends on the court order. In general, the parent with primary physical custody has the right to claim the child as a dependent. However, many parents work out different agreements depending on their specific situations, and some split the deductions. It may be in your best interest to work with your spouse and come up with the best decision for your financial situation.

We will continue this discussion in a second blog post later this week.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Top 4 Tax Tips For Divorcing Couples," Bari Zell Weinberger, Feb. 24, 2012

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