Who Can Claim the Kids as Dependents After the Divorce?

July 17, 2018 Posted in Divorce

Having a child as a dependent used to entitle a parent to claim a dependency exemption, which was quite valuable. In 2017, for example, the credit was worth $4,050, which meant each child reduced a parent's taxable income by this amount of money.

Tax reform eliminate the ability of parents to claim a dependency exemption. However, having a child as a dependent is still valuable for other reasons, including the ability to become eligible for other credits and deductions that could be worth thousands of dollars.

Because the ability to claim a child as a dependent on your taxes has real economic value and could dramatically reduce your tax bill, the issue of who can claim a child as a dependent can be contentious during divorce. And, parents need to understand what the rules are after divorce as well to avoid running afoul of IRS regulations.

A Dallas divorce lawyer can help parents to address the issue of claiming children as dependents during the dissolution of their marriage, and can provide insight into what the rules are on this issue after a marriage has ended.

Which Parent Can Claim a Child as a Dependent After Divorce?

Because only one parent can claim a child as a dependent after divorce, it's important to know which parent gets to make this claim. Typically, the custodial parent is the parent who is able to claim the child as a dependent. The custodial parent is the parent whom the child spends more than half of his or her time with over the course of the year.

However, this does not always have to be the case in every single situation. Sometimes, a couple will agree to something different as a part of divorce proceedings. For example, the divorce agreement may specify that the non-custodial parent is entitled to claim the child as a dependent. If the divorce agreement establishes that the noncustodial parent has that right, then the other parent should not try to claim the child.

If the divorce decree does not specify one way or the other who can claim the child, tiebreaker rules can apply to determine who is entitled to list the child as a dependent on tax returns. Typically, tiebreaker rules first give preference to the parent who spends the most time with the child. If the child splits time equally, the parent with the higher adjusted gross income gets to claim the child.

Many parents do not consider issues such as who gets to claim children as dependents when there is so much else to focus on as a marriage ends. Addressing seemingly minor or technical issues like this one – which can have an outsized financial impact – is one of the ways that a Dallas divorce lawyer can provide assistance.

Our legal team knows all of the issues that need to be taken into account to protect your children and financial stability after a divorce and we can help you to ensure you take comprehensive steps to secure your future once your marriage has ended. To find out more about how our firm can help you, give us a call today.