THE BLOG
03/13/2014 04:02 pm ET Updated May 13, 2014

Children of Divorce: Who Gets the Tax Exemption?

Becoming divorced causes you to have to rethink many tax issues. With the deadline for filing federal income tax returns fast approaching, it might be good to be reminded of how the government treats the dependency exemption in an ended marriage. After all, the more dependents you can claim, the smaller your tax bill will be.

The Internal Revenue Code provides that the custodial parent is allowed to claim the minor children on the federal income tax return and get the exemption. Back when moms always got custody of the children and dads typically just saw them every other weekend, this was simple to calculate. Now, however, the parenting schedules are complicated when they involve multiple children moving back and forth constantly throughout the year to spend time bonding with each parent.

Simply put, the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights during the year is entitled to claim the dependency exemption. The other parent is referred to as the noncustodial parent and generally cannot claim the exemption.

There are ways, though, that the noncustodial parent can claim the minor child as a dependent. If, as part of your divorce, you enter into an agreement with your former spouse which allows the noncustodial parent to claim the minor child, it will be honored by the IRS.

Many times, parents agree to alternate claiming the child so that one parent claims the child as a dependent in odd numbered years and the other in even numbered years. If the divorcing couple has more than one child, then one parent could claim some while the other parent claims the others.

If your divorce took place before 2008, all you have to do is attach the divorce court order to your tax return. If you were divorced more recently, your spouse needs to fill out IRS form 8332 which provides the names of the children that you can claim.

If you were divorced in 2013 and are filing your first return as a single parent, keep these rules in mind. Your tax adviser or the forms section of the IRS website can help you work through this.

Although the Feds can always use more money, it is always a good idea to pay as little tax as the rules will let you. Happy Tax Season to you.

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To learn more about family law, contact Stann at http://www.familylawfirmflorida.com.

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