This deduction is available for the original proceeding to procure taxable alimony and for any subsequent proceeding to increase it or to collect arrears. However, there is no write off for what an individual spends to resist his or her spouse’s demands for more alimony or to set aside a prenuptial property agreement. These legal fees and most other miscellaneous deductions are only allowable to the extent that their total exceeds 2% of an individual’s adjusted gross income.

In no event can the cost of obtaining income that is not taxable, such as back child support, be deducted. However, subject to the 2% benchmark for miscellaneous expenses, an individual’s legal fees that cover tax research and advice on things such as property transfers and dependency exemptions for the children can be deducted. One can only do this if the bill from your lawyer specifies, in a reasonable way, how much has been allocated for tax counseling. There is no deduction at all for your payment of your spouse’s legal fees, even if they are for his or her tax advice only. The deduction is allowed just for advice that YOU receive about your own tax problems.

Remind your attorney to prepare a bill that breaks down deductible and nondeductible charges.