Often people work for many weeks or even months to resolve all of the differences they have in the divorce process. They have gone from a situation of different ideas as to how to handle the parenting issues, the property division and payment of support to one of agreement on all those issues. Once all that hard work is done, people are normally quite anxious to get to the finish line and present the case to a judge for entry of a Final Judgment.
So why would a couple delay the process?
If you reach those agreements toward the end of the year, in December or even November, it may be worthwhile to delay the finalization just a few more weeks to obtain an income tax advantage. The way that the Internal Revenue Code is structured, the total tax bill for two people is less if they are married and file jointly than it is if they file as two single taxpayers.
Your status as a married or single person for income tax purposes is decided by whether you are single or married when the clock chimes midnight on New Year’s Eve. If you finalize your divorce in December and don’t get married right away, you will file as a single person. If you wait until the first week of January to finalize your divorce, that little bit of time can save you thousands in tax dollars depending upon how much money you make.
Bottom line: If the divorce process has brought you near the end of the year, you might want to save tax dollars by delaying the final hearing until January.