I Just Went Through a Divorce, Can I Deduct Divorce Attorney Fees?

What are the IRS rules about deducing legal fees related to a divorce?

In this Divorced Fathers Rights article gives you guidelines you can use as you prepare your taxes for the tax year in which you were divorced.

As you might expect, the maze of regulations is fairly complicated. Here is a list of those legal expenses which the IRS allows as legitimate deductions as well as those you cannot deduct.

Divorce Attorney Fees that are Legally Deductible

Attorney fees incurred in the initial divorce settlement related to settling issues of alimony and child support are tax deductible. Legal fees for future court proceedings to raise the support levels are also deductible.

Fees related to collecting alimony or child support that is in arrears are tax deductible. In other words, if you are owed child support or alimony and you have to pay an attorney to go after your ex-spouse to ensure that the money is collected, you can deduct those attorney fees.

If you are on the other end, and are challenging the payment of alimony or child support, your attorney fees are NOT deductible. If you are complying with the divorce decree and hassled in this manner, your recourse would be to sue. The IRS will not help.

If you have legitimate legal fees related to the collection of alimony or child support, then you’ll need to list those fees on Schedule A of Form 1040:

IRS Form 1040 can be found here: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040.pdf

IRS Form 1040 Schedule A can be found here: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sa.pdf

Divorce Attorney Fees that are Nondeductible

The IRS does not allow a tax deduction for legal fees related to personal advice or counseling about legal matters, or legal matters in a divorce. For instance, if you incur legal fees fighting you ex-spouse’s attempt to collect alimony or child support, those fees are not tax deductible.

Your Attorney’s Bills

If a divorce attorney is going to bill you for fees that are allowed as deductions and those that are not, ask the attorney to itemize the bill to reflect that. It will make it easier for your tax preparer and will be useful if you are audited by the IRS.