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Is there any way to avoid tax joint and several liability upon divorce?

A married couple has the option of paying married filing separate returns. In that way, each is not liable to the other spouse’s tax indebtedness, but, on the other hand, the combined tax payment will probably be higher than if they had filed jointly.

There any other forms of relief that a spouse can seek to avoid the adverse effects of a joint return.

In addition to relief offered by the Innocent Spouse Rule, a party can seek a separation of liability, which may be available when couple have been separated for more than a year prior to asking for relief; equitable relief, which may relieve a spouse from legitimate tax obligations when he or she is unable to pay; injured spouse relief, which is a way of splitting a joint return into separate returns.

Under separation of liability, couples essentially ask the I.R.S. "to compute their separate balances due." Equitable relief may be sought based on "the unfairness of assessing tax to one spouse or another," and it may apply if other forms of relief, such as separation of liability, do not. The injured spouse routine may apply when one spouse has had his or her share of a tax refund attacked because the opponent spouse owes tax, child or spousal support, or student loans.

Each of these reliefs from the liabilities of joint returns carries special conditions that require good legal advice.