After a divorce, certain tasks that once seemed relatively straightforward might get a little more complex as you try to navigate the aftermath of this major change in your life. If you have children, you may be wondering which parent can claim them as dependents. Claiming dependent children can offer a variety of tax breaks, such as a more favorable filing status or dependent tax credits, so it is likely both parents will have an interest in claiming the children. However, usually, only one parent can claim dependent children.
Claiming Dependent Children
Generally, the custodial parent, or the parent with whom the child spends the most time, can claim a child as a dependent on taxes after a divorce. If the noncustodial parent provided half of the child’s support, however, it may be possible for that parent to claim the dependent child as well.
Additionally, if the divorce decree specifically stated that the noncustodial parent could claim the child as a dependent on taxes, that parent may do so. If the divorce decree does not specifically state which parent can claim the child, tiebreaker rules may go into effect.
Below is a list of the tiebreaker rules:
- The parent who spends the most time with the child can claim the child as a dependent
- If the child spends the same amount of time with both parents, the parent with the highest adjusted gross income can claim the child as a dependent
- If only one of the taxpayers is a parent of the child, that parent has the right to claim the child
If both you and your ex claim the child as a dependent, the first filed return will be accepted, so it is crucial to communicate about this matter before filing to avoid any confusion or errors.
Lastly, if you are the custodial parent and wish to revoke your right to claim your child as a dependent, you can do so by signing Form 8332. Doing so will allow the noncustodial parent to claim the child.
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