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July 24, 2023
Tax Returns Amid Divorce: Should You File Jointly with Your Spouse or Not | Divorce Attorney Ventura

Do you have questions about tax returns during a pending divorce? Should you file jointly or separately?

John Castellano, an experienced attorney with over 25 years of dedicated service in family law, delves into an oft-asked question: should you file a joint tax return with your spouse while your divorce case is pending?

The decision to file jointly or separately is highly individual and should be evaluated case-by-case. If you have any questions or want to speak with a skilled attorney about a family law matter—including tax returns and divorce—contact Hartley Lamas Et Al. today at (833) 647-2377.

One question that parties in divorce cases often ask is whether they should file joint income tax returns with their spouse while the case is pending.

Hi, I’m John Castellano. I’m a partner with Hartley Lamas and I’ve been practicing law for over 25 years.

Filing Joint Income Tax Returns During Divorce

The answer to this question, as with most legal questions, is it depends, and needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The first thing you need to understand is that there’s no legal requirement to file jointly while your case is pending. In fact, in order to file jointly, the agreement of both parties is required. If both parties don’t agree to file joint income tax returns, then the parties must file married filing separately.

Reasons to File Jointly

So, what would the reasons for filing jointly while your case is pending be? The main one is the beneficial tax filing status. You receive a better tax benefit typically by filing jointly, you get a bigger refund or pay less in taxes by filing married, filing jointly, usually.

Reasons to File Separately

So, why wouldn’t everybody do that? Well, there are several reasons that could come up in your case for not wanting to file jointly while your case is pending. One reason is that you may not want to endorse what the other party says they’re making.

For example, if the other party is self-employed and you believe they’re underreporting their income, and that’s part of your case strategy is to present a case to prove that they are not reporting their income accurately. Or you don’t want to endorse their stated income by filing a joint tax return, because that may give you some short term benefit in terms of a tax filing status, but then later undermine your case strategy by endorsing an income that you later want to question. So that’s something you need to think about.

Spousal Support

Other concerns would be the interplay between filing a joint return or a separate return and the tax implications with support calculation, with child and spousal support calculation. Because there are some decisions that are made when calculating temporary child and spousal support, such as the tax exemptions for the children, who is assigned those exemptions, whether one spouse is in the family residence while the case is pending and the other spouse isn’t, and who is taking the itemized deductions for the property taxes and mortgage interest on the house?

These types of questions impact the support calculation and also may have an impact on the tax return, whether you file jointly or separately.

And you need to look at all of these scenarios, how these decisions about deductions and whether to file jointly or separately, how these decisions impact your support calculation and your tax filing status and your overall case strategy.

Legal Help With Your Divorce and Spousal Support Calculation

These are questions you need to go over with your family law attorney and possibly your accountant. If there’s something that we can do to help you with these issues, please contact us at the links below.

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