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My Divorce is Not Final Yet. Can I Still File as "Head of Household"?

Answers to Your Top Tax Questions


Young woman doing her taxes w/ her daughter.
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Question: My Divorce is Not Final Yet. Can I Still File as "Head of Household"?

My husband and I separated in March of last year, and I have temporary custody of our two children. Does this mean I should file as "Head of Household" on my tax return?

Answer: Generally, you can only file using the "Head of Household" status if you are unmarried on the last day of the year. However, there are some exceptions.

If you meet the following criteria, you can file for "Head of Household" even though you are married:

  • You and your spouse maintained separate households for the last six months of the year.

  • You both file separate tax returns this year.

  • At least one qualifying dependent lived with you for more than half of the calendar year.

  • You provided more than 50% of the funds needed to maintain your household.
Based on the information you provided, you may be able to file as "Head of Household" since the two of you lived apart during the last six months of the year, and you had custody of your children during that time.

At this point, whether you can file as "Head of Household" depends on two things:
  1. Are you and your spouse planning to file separate returns this year?

  2. Are you responsible for the provision of more than 50% of the cost needed to maintain your household?
If the answers to those questions are "Yes" and "Yes," then you are, in fact, eligible to file as "Head of Household," even though your divorce is not final yet.


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