Guest Post By John Ellsworth, Esq (Editor’s Note:  Today we start a new series of articles about tax planning in your divorce.)

If you and your spouse are separated but not yet divorced before the end of the year, you still have the option of filing a joint return. It’s when your divorce decree becomes final that you lose the joint return option.

Your marital status as of December 31 controls your filing status. If you can’t file a joint return for the year, you can file as a head of household after your divorce (and get the benefit of a bigger standard deduction and lower tax brackets) if you had a dependent living with you for more than half the year and you paid for more than half of the upkeep for your home.

If your divorce is still pending at as of December 31, you can either file a joint return (which always saves you money) or choose the married-filing-separately status.

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