Who Claims Children as Dependents after a Divorce?

Who Claims Children as Dependents after a Divorce?

As tax season is upon us, everyone is looking for ways to reduce their tax bill and receive a refund, and claiming one or more dependents on your taxes can significantly limit your tax liability. Only one person can claim each individual child, however, so what happens if the parents are divorced and no longer file a joint return? Who will get the tax benefits of having dependents?

When two parents get divorced, they may painstakingly set out parenting time schedules and decision-making plans, though many parents fail to properly consider claiming children on tax returns. It is important to address this issue as part of your divorce agreement and to have a divorce lawyer who understands the long-term tax implications of your agreement.

IRS Rules

The IRS sets out guidelines for parents who do not file a joint return, including:

  • A parent can claim a child if the child lived with them for most of the tax year
  • If the child lived with each parent equally, the parent with the highest adjusted gross income (AGI) can claim the child

It is important to realize that parents can come to their own arrangement regarding claiming children, as well.

Alternative Options

There are different options available for divorcing parents regarding taxes and children, including:

  • If there is a significant difference in income, the noncustodial parent may have the right to claim the children in exchange for other property or support to the custodial parent.
  • Parents can alternate years – one can claim the child in odd years and the other in even years.
  • If there is more than one child, one parent may claim specific children and the other parent may claim the rest of the children.
  • One parent may claim the dependency exemption and the child tax credit, while the other parent may use other child-related tax benefits, such as EITC, head of household status, credit for dependent-related expenses, and more.

It is highly important for parents to decide how they are going to handle child exemptions or to have the court decide for you. You should also be aware if you will be required to submit additional forms to the IRS if you are not claiming your child for certain years.

Always understand that when both parents try to claim children – whether unintentionally or out of fraud – it will raise red flags and can cause serious problems with the IRS.

Contact a South Tampa Divorce Attorney to Discuss Your Specific Case

At the Law Office of Mark G. Rodriguez, P.A., we help clients address every necessary child-related issue, including tax exemptions. If you are facing divorce or if your ex-spouse is refusing to abide by a divorce agreement, please do not hesitate to call a dedicated Tampa divorce lawyer at 813-227-9642 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.