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Child Custody & Taxes

One of the biggest questions I am asked as a family law attorney around this time of year is about taxes. More specifically, about who can claim the children as dependents for tax purposes. Divorced or separated parents want to know:

  • Can both parents claim the child?
  • How does the IRS decide which parent gets the tax benefits?
  • How does my court custody order affect a deduction?

Unfortunately, the dependency tax exemption cannot be split, so one parent or the other typically makes this claim. Typically, the parent with primary physical custody is granted the right to claim the child for tax purposes. But, it is not always that simple.

The Court may consider several factors if it has to get involved and decide who gets to take the tax deduction:

  • Whether the non-custodial parent will be paying the majority of the child support
  • The incomes of the parties
  • The tax consequences for each parent

Hopefully, the decision of who to claim your child or children is one made abundantly clear based on your custodial time and finances. But, if it is not, be sure to consult an attorney to help you assert your right before April 15th. 

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