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Q&A: How Do I File My Taxes During a Divorce?

Filing Taxes During a Divorce

If you are currently going through a divorce in Arizona, there are some important things that you should know about filing your taxes. You will only be allowed to file a joint income tax return with your spouse for this tax year if you are still married on Dec. 31 and your spouse agrees to file your return jointly for the year. If both of these factors apply, you can check the married filing jointly box on your tax return.

Filing a joint return allows you to a larger exemption than if you file separately or as a single filer. If you are not divorced but are separated at the end of the tax year, you will qualify to file a joint tax return since there will not be a final divorce decree in your case that ends your status as a married person. However, if your divorce is finalized before Dec. 31, you and your spouse will need to file your own separate returns and will not be able to file a joint return.

Filing Taxes While Legally Separated vs. Divorced

If you are legally separated from your spouse but have not received your Decree of Separate Maintenance, you will still be married. The orders that you receive for the division of your property, custody of your children, and child and spousal support will not affect your tax filing status. Since you will not have a final order from the court that ends your marriage, the IRS considers you to be married. However, if you have an order of separate maintenance by the end of the tax year, you can choose to file your tax return as single or as a head of household, according to IRS publication 504. However, if you and your spouse are able to agree to file a joint return, it might be a good idea. Each of you will likely pay higher taxes if you file separate returns.

Talking About How to File Your Tax Return

When you are going through a divorce, both you and your spouse may have trouble talking to each other about anything. It might seem hard to imagine discussing the pros and cons of filing a joint return. It is a good idea for you to talk to your tax preparer and your divorce lawyer about filing a joint income tax return. In most cases, the taxes will be lower for joint returns. However, depending on your deductions, respective incomes, and credits, you and your spouse might be better off filing separate returns.

A major disadvantage of filing a joint return is that you and your spouse will both be liable for taxes that may be owed on the tax return. If your spouse fails to pay his or her portion of any tax liabilities, the IRS will go after you to recover what is owed. You can take steps to protect yourself in the case that your spouse fails to pay his or her portion of the taxes by entering into a tax indemnification agreement with him or her. There might also be some relief available to you from the IRS. There are three types of tax relief that the IRS offers to spouses who have filed joint returns, including the following:

  • Innocent spouse relief
  • Equitable relief
  • Separation of liability

We will discuss tax indemnification agreements and the three types of tax relief that you might be able to claim further below.

Read More about Filing Taxes During a Divorce…

What Does ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Really Mean?

Best Interest of the Child

If you are currently going through a dispute over the custody of your child, you may have heard the phrase “best interests of the child” and wondered exactly what it means. The best interests of the child standard is defined as a legal standard that is used by courts in Arizona when they are making decisions about legal decision-making and parenting time in child custody cases. In Arizona, courts use a number of factors that are outlined in A.R.S § 25-403 help them to decide where the child will live and who will be able to make important decisions for him or her.

This article talks about:

  • What are the Standards for the Child’s best Interests?
  • What Factors are Considered?
  • Child Custody Disputes
  • Proving Best Interests Living with Parent
  • Getting Legal Help


In every case, the child’s interests are considered to be more important than the interests of either parent in regards to child custody and visitation. This makes it important for you to understand what the courts consider when they are making custody and visitation decisions.

What are the Standards for the Best Interest of the Child?

In child custody cases, judges focus on what is in the child’s best interests. This means that courts make decisions about custody and visitation with the goal of encouraging the child’s emotional development, mental health, security, and happiness so that he or she will grow to become a well-adjusted adult. In the past, courts generally favored the mothers when they made custody decisions. Now, there is greater recognition that the child’s best interests are best served by the child having the ability to develop a close relationship with both parents. While the ability to develop close relationships with both parents is important for a child, getting the parents to promote their child’s development of a close relationship with the child’s other parent is a common problem in child custody disputes.

It is important for you to try to make the decisions in your custody case in your child’s best interests. The decisions that you make or that the court makes for you will ultimately affect your child and your relationship with him or her for years.

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Filing for Bankruptcy Before, During or After a Divorce

Filing for bankruptcy before or after divorce


Money and financial issues are the top cause of arguments between spouses, according to a 2018 survey that was conducted by Ramsey Solutions. Financial stress is also the second leading cause of divorce after infidelity. These statistics show that there is little wonder that many couples who plan to divorce may also be in financial situations that necessitate filing for bankruptcy.

If you want to file for divorce and also want to file for bankruptcy, the timing is important. When you are trying to figure out whether to file before your divorce, at the same time as you are divorcing, or following your divorce, there are several things that the experienced attorneys at the Cantor Law Group thing that you should consider.

Filing for Bankruptcy Before Your Divorce: Pros and Cons

There are several ways that filing for bankruptcy before your divorce can benefit you. If you file for bankruptcy first, you and your spouse will only have to pay one filing fee and can share the legal fees of your bankruptcy attorney. Filing for bankruptcy first can also make the property division portion of your divorce case simpler. In a normal divorce, the court will divide both the assets and the debts. If you and your spouse secure a discharge of your unsecured debts, neither one of you will have to pay them after you receive the discharge. This means that the court will not need to divide them.

It is also important to note that if a judge orders your spouse to pay a debt that you share, the court’s order will not impact the creditor. Since the creditor is not a party to your divorce, it can go after either you or your spouse to collect payment. If you do not obtain a discharge of a debt through bankruptcy, the creditor can seek to collect what is owed regardless of the family court’s orders. If it is discharged in a bankruptcy that you and your spouse file before you file for divorce, the creditor may not engage in any further collection activities for that debt against either you or your spouse.

Filing for bankruptcy before your divorce also has a few disadvantages. If you plan to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it may be a better idea for you to wait to file your bankruptcy case until after your divorce is finalized. This is because of the differences between these two types of bankruptcy.

Read More about Bankruptcy During and After Divorce…

Legal Separation vs Divorce in Arizona

Legal Separation vs Divorce in Arizona

What is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

While a legal separation is uncommon, it is still used by some couples in lieu of divorces. There are several reasons why people choose legal separation instead of a divorce. In some cases, it may make more sense for a couple to become legally separated while in others, it may be better to file for divorce. Before deciding which you want to choose, it is important that you understand the differences between legal separation and divorce and the potential benefits and drawbacks of each.

Legal separation has some similarities to divorce but has some key differences. When a couple gets divorced, it terminates their marriage. Their property, assets, and debts are divided between them, and the court issues orders regarding child custody, child support, and possibly, spousal maintenance. When a couple chooses legal separation instead of divorce, it is a formal process through which a couple separates without getting divorced. The court will issue orders about the division of the property and debts, child custody and support, and possibly, spousal maintenance. However, the couple will still be married.

People who are legally separated still must answer that they are married on their tax forms and on other forms. They also are not free to marry other people since they are married. While many couples who get legal separations will eventually divorce, some choose to remain legally separated instead of getting divorced for a variety of reasons. If a legally separated couple does choose to eventually divorce, the orders from their legal separation will be incorporated into their divorce decree.

Read More about Legal Separation vs Divorce…

Fathers in Arizona Can Now Get More Parenting Time Thanks to Changes in Arizona Law for 2013

Arizona Family Law Attorney David Cantor explains the new parenting time custody law in Arizona for 2013:

New laws have been recently put in place in the state of Arizona. These laws will have a large effect on parents’ decision-making authority, as well as the amount of time they can spend with their children. The term “Joint Custody / Sole Custody” has been replaced with “Joint / Sole Legal Decision-Making” under Arizona law. The fact that the term changed doesn’t change the principal outcome, which is making decisions related to medical, religious and educational issues for the children. Rather, Arizona has decided to recognize a presumption that offering the parents Joint Legal Decision-Making will be in the best interests of their children.

This allows both the mother and father to have an involvement in major decisions that will affect the child’s life. Furthermore, a greater burden of proof has been set if one parent alleges that this joint decision-making will not be in the child’s best interest. Fathers will now have the same ability to be involved in their child’s life as mothers.

When setting parenting time, courts in the State of Arizona will now use the presumption that offering both parents equal time with their children will be in the best interest of these minor children. This is certainly welcome news for fathers, many of who believed that courts in Arizona were biased towards mothers when it comes to issues related to child custody and parenting time. Under the new changes in legislation, courts will no longer be able to presume that younger children, like infants and toddlers will be better off being under the mother’s care due to their needs and young age. Now, both parents will be able to spend a large amount of time with their children. If one party argues that the court should reduce the other parent’s time with their children, it will be far more difficult for them to overcome the presumption on equal parenting time.

Have Questions about Parenting Time? Click Here to Speak with an Attorney

These changes don’t mean that equal decision-making authority plus parenting time will be awarded to both parents in each case. If there are serious issues, such as ongoing alcohol or drug abuse, domestic violence, etc., than the courts can consider the best interests of the children to create a parenting plan which will address specific issues brought forth in the case. This can also happen in cases where both parents sharing equal time isn’t possible due to the fact that they live a large distance apart.

If you would like to know more about these changes in the law, or you have certain questions about them, an experienced attorney can provide you with much needed help. Free legal consultations are given by the Cantor Law Group, where you can talk about matters that are specific to your case and learn important information. If anything about the new custody laws in Arizona is unclear, give us a call at 602-254-8880 or send us a confidential email to discuss your case.

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