As the end of winter approaches, we often think of the old proverb April showers bring May flowers. We begin to look forward to all that spring brings with it. For separated or divorced spouses and parents, spring also brings 2 significant events that require special preparation: Tax Day and Spring Break.
Although you may have filed tax returns a particular way while married, when spouses separate and divorce, this changes. Married couples have a relatively simple choice to make when claiming their status on State and Federal tax returns. The most common statuses are “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” However, recently separated or divorced spouses, should consult with a Certified Public Accountant to discuss their current status and explore a number of questions, such as: which status applies in your situation; who claims the home mortgage interest deduction; which parent claims the dependency exemptions for your children.
Be sure to bring all pertinent documents to your meeting. These documents may include your Separation Agreement, Orders of the Court regarding property distribution and spousal support (i.e., post separation support and alimony), Orders of the Court regarding child custody and child support, and your Judgment of Divorce. Be prepared so as to ensure this meeting is productive and you get all the answers you need.
For parents who share custody of their children, there are a few things you should consider for their upcoming holiday break. Before making any plans, parents with a Custody Order or Agreement in place should review it to refresh their memory about parenting time for spring break. This document often sets forth both “regular” parenting time and “holiday” parenting time and most will classify spring break as “holiday” parenting time. Holiday parenting time often supersedes regular parenting time, which means your typical parenting schedule will be replaced with the holiday schedule and the regular parenting schedule will resume after the holiday. A typical holiday schedule will allow the parents to alternate the holidays with the children. For example, one parent may have parenting time for spring break in even-numbered years and the other will have parenting time in odd-numbered years.
When making travel plans, you should also review when the holiday time begins and ends and whether you are required to provide notice to the other parent. It is likely the Order or Agreement requires the traveling parent to provide notice and information about travel plans, such as actual travel dates, flight itinerary, the address where the child will be staying, and a telephone number to reach the child in the event of emergency. Some Orders also require a specific amount of advance notice for travel (e.g., one week before the start of your trip). Be sure to pay close attention to any notice requirements and the timeframe for providing the information to the other parent.
With a little bit of planning, we hope you can breeze through those April showers and enjoy the May flowers.