It can take many months, even several years, for a dissolution to wind its way through the courts. Faced with his fact, many spouses want to terminate the marriage quickly, even if the other issues in the case have not been settled. There might also be situations in which it makes sense to have a separate trial of a particular issue.
In both of those situations, the court will order that the trial is to be “bifurcated.” This means either that the marital status is terminated and the parties are restored to their single status or a separate trial is to be held concerning a specific issue.
Bifurcations are usually requested because one or both of the spouses want to remarry. They are also sought because one or both of them want to file their tax returns for the current year as a "single" taxpayer.
The tax laws state that a person can file as a "single" person as long as his or her marital status was terminated before the end of the year. Thus, even if the marital status is ended on December 31st, the taxpayer can file as a "single" person for the entire year.
This can be significant, particularly for the person who is paying spousal or "family" support. Payments of spousal and family support are 100% deductible for the person who is ordered to make those payments. Conversely, spousal and family support payments must be reported as income by the person receiving them. Income tax laws provide that these support payments are not deductible if the spouses file a joint tax return.
If you have been paying spousal or family support pursuant to a court order or written agreement you should immediately talk to your accountant or tax preparer to determine if it would be to your advantage to file as a single person for this year.
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For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at http://www.familylawmarin.com/