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Hi Fools,

I separated from my husband as of May 1 of this year. We intend to divorce. It's amicable, no property or kids to deal with, and we have never had any joint accounts of any kind.

Nevertheless we are aware that the state of California has this little thing called "community property," and that will complicate our desire for a simple and hassle-free dissolution of the marriage.

I understand that we can write our marital separation agreement to reflect however we want to divide our property, so that should work OK, but the issue of TAXES looms large and fearful in our minds.

We have taken no legal steps yet to end the marriage, and because of this, it is my understanding that the divorce can't be finalized before the end of the year because there is a 6 month waiting period. However, I also understand that we can file for legal separation before the year is out, have that happen almost immediately (no waiting period), and therefore each file as single for 2004, allowing plenty of time to later get the divorce taken care of.

(1) Is this a correct assumption to make- that the legal separation will allow us each to file our taxes as single for 2004?

(2) I also understand that, for tax purposes, we will still each need to claim half the other's income for the first four months of the year - i.e., the time before we physically separated. Is this correct?

(3) But that any money we received after we began to live apart is NOT community property - is this correct?

I would greatly appreciate any advice on the subject. There are further complications, in my case, that I left out of the question for simplicity's sake. But I think I will definitely need professional help with my taxes for this year. Do I need to find someone who specializes in divorce issues?

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