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The rule for determining marital status is very straightforward. If you are married on the last day of the tax year, you are considered to be married for the whole year. Conversely, if you are divorced during the year and don't remarry before December 31, you will be considered unmarried for the entire year.
In a divorce, the parties are considered to be married until a final decree of divorce or legal separation is issued. The validity of the divorce is determined under the law of the state of domicile (legal residence). Taxpayers who live apart and have obtained an interim decree of divorce or separation, but have not yet been granted a final decree, are treated as married for tax purposes, unless specific conditions apply.
What about common-law marriages? Generally speaking, if your state recognizes such marriages and you meet all the state law requirements, the IRS will recognize your marriage as well. Federal law bars same-sex couples from filing as a married couple, even if their union or domestic partnership is recognized under state law. If this applies to you and you live in a community property state, you will want to consult a tax professional.
Special rules apply to: