When divorced parents come to live in different residences, only one parent can claim a child as a dependent. The IRS provides information about this matter in Publication 504, which covers divorced and separated individuals. The IRS cross-references the Social Security numbers of dependents to make sure both parents are not claiming the child as an exemption.
You and your former spouse should talk about these things as they affect the issue at hand, specifically well before tax season.
Which Parent Claims a Dependent Child?
Generally, the custodial parent claims the dependent-exemption deduction
The parent with primary custody of the child, who has the child for the greater part of the year, is deemed the custodial parent. Only he or she is allowed to claim the child as an exemption. If divorced parents have a 50-50 joint custody agreement, there is no clear answer as to which parent can claim the exemption. Yet only one can do so. To reach a resolution, think of claiming the child in alternate years. If you have more than one child, one parent can claim the first child and the other parent the second.
Rights to Claim Child as Tax Dependent
The custodial parent can give the noncustodial parent the right to claim the child as a dependent. In doing so, the custodial parent gives up his or her right to claim the child as a dependent. In order for the custodial parent to give up this right, the following requirements must be met:
- Over half the child’s support for the year must be provided by one or both parents
- The parents are divorced or separated by a written agreement at the end of the year, or have lived separately in the last six months of the year
- The child is in the custody of one or both parents for over six months
- The custodial parent has signed IRS Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. The noncustodial parent attaches this form to his or her Form 1040. Do not attempt to submit a divorce decree in place of Form 8332
If you would like help figuring out how to best arrange custody and take exemptions on your taxes, contact Vaught Law Firm to get consultation from experienced family law attorneys. You may also wish to consult a tax lawyer.
You could sign a waiver of conflict of interest form and seek the advice of one attorney, but there is an inherent conflict of interest in this matter. It is safer for each party to have their own attorney.
At the Vaught Law Firm, we have years of experience navigating complicated family law issues like this one. We understand, and we can help you protect your assets and your family’s rights.