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Child custody and dependent status for tax purposes

With tax season in full swing, some parents who have divorced and parents who are facing divorce might be wondering how tax returns are handled when the divorce is done. For many parents, being able to claim the child as a dependent on tax forms is desirable. The rules regarding who gets to claim children on tax returns might prove complex for some parents.

According to the Internal Revenue Code, minor children can be claimed by their custodial parent. This, however, is sometimes difficult to determine. In the past, child custody agreements typically named one parent as the custodial parent. Newer child custody agreements might not do that.

In some cases, parents who have a shared parenting child custody agreement might alternate who can claim the child. Parents with more than one child might agree that each parent can claim specific children. If there isn't an alternating agreement in place, the parent who had the child for more nights of the year would be the one who could claim the child on tax forms.

Generally, parents who were divorced after 2008 should have an IRS form 8332 from your spouse to show that you are allowed to claim the children. People who were divorced prior to 2008 can attach a copy of a court child custody agreement or divorce order to the tax return to show they are allowed to claim children.

If you are worried about how dependents will be handled for tax purposes, seeking the advice of a Virginia family law attorney might help you to discover ways you can protect your rights.

Source:  Huffington Post, "Children of Divorce: Who Gets the Tax Exemption?" Stann Givens, Mar. 13, 2014

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