Lawyers who handle divorce cases must know the applicable tax law – especially regarding child support and maintenance. Divorce lawyers often refer clients to a tax professional such as an accountant or a tax lawyer. But that may not always been enough for a lawyer to avert liability for malpractice. For example, the tax professional may provide the wrong advice, or the client may never obtain the recommended advice. In either of these circumstances, one California appellate court held that the lawyer could be sued for malpractice. 2018 and 2019 will bring critical changes involving maintenance because no longer will maintenance awards be deductible for cases entered on or after January 1, 2019 (at least through 2025).
Moreover, a knowledge of divorce tax law will allow you to help the parties save money through understanding the impact of the loss of dependency exemptions in 2018 but the remaining viability of the under age 17 child tax credit. I have found that in the average divorce case knowledge of the basics of tax law can often save your clients thousands of dollars a year.