After a divorce, you may wish to cut all ties with your former husband or wife, but you might have to wait a little while longer. Although the strain of a divorce is hard on you and your ex-spouse, it's still a good idea to have a way to reach him or her for tax-related or child-related purposes.
Although a divorce signifies the end of your marriage, it doesn't necessarily mean you're done having to deal with your ex-spouse. There are many things that will, at least initially, still tie the two of you together. For instance, if you have a child, your custody arrangements and child support bind you to one another until your child is grown. If there are tax consequences to your divorce, you and your ex may need to speak with one another about those issues.
On your taxes, you may find that you need to file separately if your divorce goes through at any point during the year. It's important to find out how your ex-spouse is filing, so you don't contradict one another. For instance, filing as married would give you a greater deduction, but since you aren't married, you shouldn't file your taxes in that manner.
Remember, if you have a child, you'll have to decide with your ex on who is the "head of household." Only one party can claim your child on your taxes and get the tax credits associated with child care and other child-related exemptions. The person who gets that credit could vary year-to-year or be the same person every year, depending on your situation.
Many of these tax-related pitfalls can be avoided with the right foresight. Before a divorce is finalized, consider getting tax-related documents together and making tax-related decisions. If you do so, any decisions you make can also be part of your divorce decree.