"Who Gets to Claim the Kids?"

As tax season comes around many separated couples face the issue of who gets to claim a child as a dependent on their taxes. This is an area of contention for many couples.

According to the IRS, a dependent child is one who has lived with you for at least half of the year and who has received at least half of his financial support from you. For more information you can consult your tax adviser or the IRS website. This link to the IRS website may also be helpful.

Absent an order or agreement, the parent who files first and makes the claim “wins”. For example, if May and Joe have not discussed taxes (or maybe they have but are disregarding any verbal agreements) and both decide to file their taxes each claiming Jimmy as a dependent, the IRS will allow the claim for whoever filed first. If Joe files his taxes on Tuesday, and May the following Sunday, Joe would have no issues and May would be denied the claim. Mary would then need to contact the IRS to dispute the claim if she is the custodial parent and believes that Joe received the credit erroneously. A copy of her current custody orders may be necessary as an offer of proof.

To prevent this type of issue, many orders are made on how to claim children on taxes. The IRS has even created a form which specifies which parent will claim which child(ren) which year ( Form 8332). Making an informed decision about claiming dependents is essential. You may want to consult with a tax preparer or CPA to determine how you will be affected by the ability or inability to claim a child.

The amount of dependents you are able to claim on your taxes is also taken into consideration when making child support orders. Discussing the possibilities with an experienced attorney can alleviate stress.

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