Divorce Legal Fees: Tax Deductible?

January 16, 2010 | Divorce, Legal Fees, Legal Perspective, Tax Issues

Icon for author Brian Vertz Brian Vertz

This time each year, divorce lawyers everywhere face the same question from clients: are my legal fees are tax-deductible? For guidance on the subject, I turn to the definitive treatise: Divorce Taxation by Melvin B.  Frumkes. The main principal to keep in mind, when considering whether legal expenses are deductible, is whether they are paid or incurred for the production or collection of taxable income. IRC § 212. Legal fees incurred to collect alimony, for instance, are deductible, but legal fees related to child support are not. Legal fees related to marital dissolution are not tax-deductible, but fees for a spousal support modification proceeding are. The fees related to a divorce lawyer’s advice about tax issues – such as alimony issues, valuation and division of retirement plans, allocation of dependency exemptions, deductibility of mortgage interest, taxpayer filing status, and innocent spouse relief – are likely to qualify as deductible expenses.

Incidentally (and ironically), this post is not intended as tax advice and should not be used by any person to avoid any penalties under the Internal Revenue Code. Readers are urged to contact their divorce lawyers and qualified professionals for advice specifically suited to their factual circumstances.

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