Claiming a dependent child on your taxes can give you certain tax breaks, but if you are divorced from your children’s other parent, it may create some confusion as to who can claim them. In most cases, the custodial parent, or the parent who spends the most time with the children, has the right to claim dependent children on their taxes.
Claiming Children on Your Taxes
Although it is typically the right of the custodial parent to claim dependent children on their taxes, it is possible to waive that right in a written declaration, so that the noncustodial parent may claim them. It may also be possible for the noncustodial parent to claim them if they provide half of the child’s support.
If the divorce decree does not state that the noncustodial parent can claim the children and the custodial parent does not provide a written declaration, tiebreaker rules would apply:
- The parent the children spend the most time with can claim them as dependents
- If both parents spend about the same amount of time with their children, the parent who earns a higher income can claim them as dependents
- If one of the taxpayers is the children’s parent, that parent can claim them
In cases where both parents attempt to claim the children as dependents, the one who files first will be accepted. Therefore, if you have any doubts as to who can claim the children, it is best to discuss the matter with your co-parent before filing your taxes.
If you sign a written declaration that allows the noncustodial parent to claim the children, you can revoke it at any time and claim your children as dependents.
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