Here are some pointers that you may want to discuss with your lawyer and/or your accountant when separating from your spouse or getting a divorce.
1) Your filing status is based on your marital status as of December 31. Should you file your taxes based on married filing single? Head of household? Filing jointly? Is it beneficial to delay the entry of the divorce decree if you are close to the end of the year?
2) In order to file as head of household if you are still married, do you meet all of the requirements including length of separation?
3) Who gets to claim the tax dependency exemption for a child if not specified in an Agreement or Order? Do not assume that it is based on who pays the most in child support. Be sure that you talk to your accountant/tax attorney about this and understand all of the nuances.
4) Who gets the child care credit? Again, do not assume that it is based on who pays the most in child support. Do you have to be claiming the tax dependency exemption for this credit to apply?
5) What tax issues can you and your spouse agree on and the tax people will honor? Are there things that you are not allowed to make agreements on? What forms might you have to complete to carry out agreements?
6) How does filing status affect deductions or inclusions of spousal support payments?
7) How should refunds or liabilities be apportioned?
These are just some of the questions that you should be considering as the year comes to an end and tax forms begin to appear in January.