Who Gets To Claim The Kid After A Divorce? Thumbnail

Divorce is an ugly situation that none of us want to face.  However, life happens and we must move on from soured relationships.  With the widely quoted statistic that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, inevitably there will be questions about how one claims depends and pays for taxes during this time of the year.  Many unmarried couples are also now having children and perhaps have some similar questions.  H&R Block has sponsored this post and the giveaway that follows it.  At the bottom are details for how to enter the giveaway.

Q: My son lives with me for half the year. The other half of the year, my son lives with his dad. We are not married, but we have shared custody. Who gets to claim my son?

The parent that lives with the child the longest is considered the custodial parent for tax purposes and is generally entitled to claim the exemption (additional requirements must be met). The number of nights that the child spent with each parent are counted and compared when determining which parent the child lived with the longest during the year.  The custodial parent who is entitled to claim the child may always release the exemption to the noncustodial parent using Form 8332. If certain requirements are met, a divorce decree that contains the same information as Form 8332 may be used instead to release an exemption to the noncustodial parent.

Tiebreaker Rules for Parents

If the child lives with both parents an equal amount of time (for example, they live together all year), and the parents file separate returns, the parents can decide who will claim the child. If they can’t decide, and each try to claim the child, the IRS will use its tiebreaker rule to determine which parent has the right to claim the dependency exemption. The IRS will allow the parent with the higher adjusted gross income (AGI) to claim the child.

Tiebreaker Rules in Other Cases

If a child is the qualifying child of 2 or more people, the following rules apply to determine which person is entitled to claim the child:

  • If 1 of the individuals is the child’s parent:
  • If the other taxpayer’s AGI is higher than that of the parent, they may choose which one of them claims the child.
  • If both individuals claim the child, the parent has the superior claim.
  • If the other taxpayer’s AGI is not higher than that of the parent, the child is treated as a qualifying child only of the parent; the other taxpayer may not claim the child even if the parent is willing for that taxpayer to do so.
  • If no parent can claim the child as a qualifying child, the person who had the highest AGI claims the child. They cannot choose.

Q. I pay child support. Does that affect my taxes in any way?

No, child support is not considered taxable income to the recipient and is not a tax deduction for the payer. Also, a noncustodial parent is not automatically entitled to claim a child’s exemption because of the payments.

You can get a free 30-minute consultation with a tax pro at an H&R Block office near you, and determine what’s best for your situation. Or, you can file at home online with H&R Block tax prep software that guarantees accuracy and the maximum refund. Plus, H&R Block will look at your tax returns from the past three years to see if there is tax refund money you missed.

Giveaway Details!

What are we giving away? 10 copies of H&R Block At Home Premium Federal Edition

How: There are two ways to enter this contest:

  1. Leave a comment below letting us know your favorite thing about tax season.
  2. Follow Yakezie on Twitter and tweet this message: I entered the H&R Block giveaway on #yakezie 10 copies to win, RT to enter! http://bit.ly/gxM9Je
  3. Subscribe to Sweating The Big Stuff here.

When: This giveaway expires March 19th at 11:59pm EST and winners will be chosen via random.org and contacted soon after.

Thanks for participating.