Tax Planning for Divorce: Navigating Alimony and Child Support

Divorce can significantly alter financial landscapes. Understanding the tax implications of alimony and child support is crucial for effective tax planning.

Askia Roberts
May 15, 2024

1. Understanding Alimony: Tax Implications
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a payment from one ex-spouse to the other. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) brought significant changes to the taxation of alimony.

  • Pre-2019 Divorces: Alimony payments are deductible by the payer and taxable to the recipient.
  • Post-2018 Divorces: Alimony payments are not deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient.

Practical Tips:

  • Ensure alimony agreements are in written form.
  • Use official payments methods like checks to create a transaction trail.


  • The alimony must be stipulated by a divorce decree or separation agreement.
  • The payments must cease upon the death of the recipient.

2. Child Support: Financial and Tax Considerations
Child support payments are intended for child care expenses and are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient.

Practical Tips:

  • Keep detailed records of all child support payments.
  • Avoid combining child support payments with alimony to maintain clear tax records.


  • Child support must be designated as such in the divorce decree or agreement.

3. Filing Status: Impact on Taxes Post-Divorce
Your filing status can change from married to single or head of household post-divorce, impacting tax rates and deductions.

Practical Tips:

  • Consider filing as head of household for better tax rates if you qualify by having a dependent living with you more than half the year.


  • To file as head of household, ensure you meet the IRS criteria regarding dependents.

4. Dividing Assets: Tax Implications
The division of assets in a divorce can lead to tax obligations, especially concerning the sale of a primary residence or division of retirement accounts.

Practical Tips:

  • Understand the tax basis of any assets you receive.
  • Consider the implications of early withdrawal from retirement accounts.


  • Tax implications vary based on the asset type and the agreement stipulated.

5. Post-Divorce Tax Planning
Post-divorce, your financial situation will need reevaluation, especially concerning tax withholdings and estimated tax payments.

Practical Tips:

  • Adjust your W-4 form with your employer post-divorce.
  • Consider adjusting your quarterly estimated tax payments if you are self-employed.


  • Regular review of your tax status and obligations is recommended to avoid penalties.

Navigating the tax implications of divorce requires understanding the specifics of your situation and possibly consulting with a tax professional. Regular reviews and adherence to legal stipulations will help minimize tax liabilities and ensure compliance.

Legal Disclaimer: This guide is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as tax advice. Tax laws and regulations are subject to change, and individual circumstances may vary. Consult with a qualified tax professional or advisor to address your specific tax situation and compliance requirements.

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Best Regards,

Askia Roberts, CPA

RTW Advisors