Are Divorce Fees Tax Deductible?

Updated on December 5, 2023
Updated: October 12, 2023

Are divorce fees tax deductible? Divorce can be costly, both emotionally and financially. The expenses of divorce can cause financial hardship for many couples. Some wonder if these fees related to the divorce agreement are tax deductible. The answer is not a simple yes or no. Contact Tommalieh Law's skilled Orland Park divorce lawyers for legal advice in divorce planning.

Taxpayers can deduct certain legal fees and court costs from their federal taxes. These expenses must be necessary for earning or maintaining taxable income. Annual tax return deductions typically include professional fees paid to attorneys and other professionals involved in the divorce process. This may include fees for spousal support, child custody, support payments, and property division. Tax expert advice fees may also be deductible.

tax deduction paperwork on a desk

However, legal fees for personal matters are considered a miscellaneous expense itemized deduction and can only be deducted if they exceed 2% of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income. Counseling and mediation fees cannot be deducted, but they may qualify as a medical expense deduction if they exceed 10% of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income. Legal fees related to criminal charges cannot be deducted.

It is recommended to seek guidance from a tax professional regarding tax planning and deductible taxes after divorce.

Why Claim Divorce Attorney Fees on Taxes in the First Place?

Divorce attorney fees are costly. They might qualify as a tax deduction. The IRS permits certain legal fees to be subject to taxation on federal income taxes. This allows some of the money spent on divorce settlement-related legal fees to be subtracted from taxable income. It either reduces the amount owed or increases the refund.

Remember, legal costs for spousal support, collection of income, production of income, division of rental properties, and child custody and support can be deducted. However, fees for criminal charges or tax advice cannot. Additionally, all miscellaneous itemized deductions must exceed 2% of adjusted gross income for legal fees to be deductible. Claiming legal fees on taxes can be complex, so it's advisable to consult a tax professional for guidance.

Divorce costs are generally not tax deductible, but there are exceptions. Money spent on an attorney is considered personal spending however legal fees for divorce can be deducted if they meet specific criteria. The fees must be paid to generate taxable income, like spousal support, division of a qualified retirement plan, farm income, maintenance of property held, or property division.

Divorce and family law books on a table next to a gavel and wedding rings

The taxpayer must itemize deduction types and have all miscellaneous deductions surpassing 2% of their standard deduction-adjusted gross income. However, counseling or mediation fees and legal fees for criminal charges cannot be deducted. Medical expenses can only be deducted if they exceed 10% of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income.

Claiming divorce action legal fees as a deduction can be complicated, so it's advisable to seek advice from a tax professional.

Spousal Support

Spousal support payments are fees associated with divorce. They are required when one spouse leaves the marriage and needs financial support. The payments help the receiving spouse maintain their standard of living. For tax purposes, the paying spouse can usually deduct spousal support payments, while the receiving spouse must include them as taxable income. However, if the spousal support is part of a legal settlement or court order, it may not be taxable. 

Qualifying for Spousal Support Tax Deductions

Court fees and other costs must be addressed. However, there is a potential tax benefit for spousal support payments. To qualify for a taxable spousal support deduction, the payments must meet IRS criteria. They must be made to a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation arrangement. Child support cannot be considered, and the couple must not live together anymore. Additionally, both spouses cannot file taxes jointly, and the paying spouse cannot claim other dependency exemptions for the recipient of the spousal support. 

Division of Marital Assets

Division of marital assets is a critical part of the divorce process. It can have significant implications for both parties involved. Asset division is usually part of a larger financial settlement that includes spousal support and child support. The specific rules for dividing assets depend on state laws. Assets divided between the parties are not tax deductible. This is because they are considered marital property, not income. Payments made as part of a financial settlement cannot be deducted from taxable income.

Capital Gains and Losses

When facing the challenges of divorce, the tax deduction of divorce fees may depend on capital gains and losses. If a couple has to pay for legal expenses or other costs related to the divorce, those fees may be tax deductible if they are considered capital losses. Capital losses occur when the cost of an asset is greater than the proceeds from selling it.

Tax deductions on a desk next to a pen

To deduct these losses, the couple must file a joint tax return and include all of their capital gains and losses. The loss can be deducted from capital gains made during the year or carried forward to future years. If you have questions about the tax implications of capital gains and losses in divorce, it's important to consult a tax professional.

Transfers of Retirement Assets and Tax Consequences

When going through the burdens of divorce, it's important to know the tax consequences of transferring retirement assets. These assets are usually held in accounts with tax benefits like lower-taxed contributions and untaxed growth until withdrawal.

The transfer of these funds during a divorce can have different tax consequences depending on where and how they are transferred. Understanding the tax implications of each transfer is crucial. This includes considering potential capital gains or losses, as well as how contributions and withdrawals may be taxed differently based on the account type.

Child Support and Tax Deductions

Child support payments are not tax-deductible. They are considered personal expenses, not business expenses. There may be exceptions for divorce fees related to child support payments. If a court has ordered you to pay spousal or child support and you make those payments through the court, you may be able to deduct the legal fees from your taxes. The deduction is usually limited to 10% of your adjusted gross income. You must itemize these deductions on your taxes. Consult a tax professional if you have questions.

Claiming Dependents After Divorce

One issue that adds complexity is determining who can claim the dependent children for tax purposes. Generally, if both parents provide at least half of the child's support and have custody for more than half of the year, they can both claim the child as a dependent.

However, if one parent has primary custody and provides more than half of the child's support, they may be able to claim the child as a dependent. It's important to seek advice from a tax professional for specific guidance on claiming dependents after divorce.

Divorce can be difficult and costly, but there are tax benefits available. Expenses related to divorce may be tax deductible if they are necessary for income production or business management. This includes professional services like attorneys, accountants, and appraisers. Court filing fees and spousal support payments may also be tax deductible. 

Appraisal Fees

During a divorce, appraisal fees are a common expense. These fees are associated with determining the value of items like real estate and jewelry for the division of marital property. They are not tax deductible for either party since they are personal expenses related to the divorce, not business or investment expenses. However, if the appraisal is related to a business or trade activity, the fees may be deductible. 

a lawyer holding cutouts of a man and woman with a gavel in between them

Financial Planning and Tax Advice Fees

Getting financial planning and tax advice fees during a divorce can be a wise investment. These fees can help with making financial decisions during this time. Depending on the fee type and provider, they may also be tax deductible. Fees for advice from financial advisors to help create a divorce budget, accountants to understand divorce expenses tax, or attorneys to understand the costs of divorce proceedings are likely to be tax deductible. 

Mortgage Refinancing Costs

Mortgage refinancing costs are not tax deductible. These costs can include fees paid to your lender, appraiser, title company, and lawyer. The IRS does not consider these costs as part of your property's cost basis and they are not tax deductible. However, there are exceptions. Points paid to lower the interest rate, certain home improvements, or mortgage insurance premiums may be deductible. 

Contact Tommalieh Law Today for More Information

Tommalieh Law is a law firm that has experience in divorce cases and other family law matters. The attorneys at Tommalieh Law understand the complexities of divorce, and they can help you navigate the process from start to finish. They also have experience in dealing with financial issues related to divorce, including whether certain fees are tax deductible.

If you have questions about whether your divorce fees are tax deductible, please contact Tommalieh Law today for more information on expenses from divorce proceedings.

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