Photo of the legal professionals at Harry Lewis Co., LPA
Photo of the legal professionals at Harry Lewis Co., LPA

Trusted In The Columbus Area
For More Than 40 Years

Photo of the legal professionals at Harry Lewis Co., LPA

Trusted In The Columbus Area For More Than 40 Years

What Tax Issues Can I Expect After A Divorce?

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Divorce |

Divorce can create significant changes in financial situations. One of the most pressing results is that tax issues often become a critical concern.

Understanding how divorce affects taxes helps individuals navigate this challenging period more smoothly. With that in mind, there are some key tax issues to expect after a divorce.

Filing status

One of the most immediate tax changes involves filing status. A person’s filing status changes from “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately” to “single” or “head of household.” The filing status depends on marital status at the end of the tax year. Head of household status often provides better tax benefits, but eligibility requires meeting specific criteria, such as maintaining a household for a dependent.


Alimony payments have tax implications for both the payer and the recipient. For divorces finalized before 2019, the payer can deduct alimony payments from taxable income, and the recipient must report alimony as taxable income. However, for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, these rules changed. The payer cannot deduct alimony payments, and the recipient does not need to report them as taxable income.

Child support

Child support differs from alimony in its tax treatment. Child support payments are not deductible by the payer, nor are they considered taxable income for the recipient. This distinction is important for both parties to understand, as it impacts their overall tax planning and financial strategy following a divorce.

Dependency exemptions

Determining which parent can claim the children as dependents on their tax return often becomes a contentious issue. Generally, the custodial parent with whom the child lives for more than half the year, claims the dependency exemption. However, parents can agree to alternate years or allocate exemptions differently, often formalizing this arrangement in the divorce decree.

Retirement accounts and property transfers

Divorce settlements often involve dividing retirement accounts and other property. Transfers of property between spouses related to a divorce generally do not result in immediate tax consequences. However, specific rules govern the division of retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs to avoid penalties and taxes. Using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order can ensure compliance with tax regulations during the division of these assets.

Navigating these tax issues can be complex, but understanding them helps individuals better prepare for the financial implications of divorce. Proper planning and attention to detail can minimize tax liabilities and ensure a smoother transition to a post-divorce financial life.