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Who Claims the Children on Their Taxes After a Divorce?

claim child on taxes

It’s no secret that your financial situation changes drastically after a divorce. In addition to your household income being cut in half, the way you file your taxes will change. One of the most common questions divorced couples have is who will claim their child(ren) on their taxes.

Claiming your child(ren) on your taxes means you will receive the Child Tax Credit for the tax year. In 2017, the amount was raised to $2,000 for each child, with $1,400 of that being refundable. This means that the person claiming the children will receive a $2,000 credit on their taxes, with $1,400 available as a refund if you owe less than that amount. Only one parent may claim the child(ren) on their taxes, so it’s easy to see why this becomes a point of contention for some couples.

Making Sure Your Children Can Be Claimed

Before either of you claim your child(ren) on your taxes, it’s important to make sure they qualify to be claimed.

To be claimed as dependents on your tax return, your child(ren) should be:

  • Related to you (this includes step children, eligible foster children, and adopted children)
  • Under the age of 17
  • A US resident or US national

Your child should also not provide half of their own support.

If your child or children meet these requirements, they can be claimed as a dependent.

Who Gets to Claim Kids on Their Taxes?

If you and your spouse are divorced or separated, it’s important to communicate about who will claim your child(ren) on their taxes. If you do not agree and both of you claim your child or children, the person that filed first will actually receive the Child Tax Credit. The other person will need to amend their tax return before it is accepted.

Keep in mind that if you are simply separated and not legally divorced, you may still file jointly with your spouse. This allows both of you to claim the children.

But if you are divorced, the custodial parent, the parent the child lives with for 6+ months out of the year, has the right to claim them on their taxes. However, if the noncustodial parent provided at least half of the child’s support throughout the year, they are also eligible to claim them on their taxes.

If you anticipate that the noncustodial parent will provide at least half of the child’s support, it is important to work out who will claim the child(ren) on their taxes part of your divorce decree. Some couples alternate who may claim the child from year to year and some agree that the parent with the highest adjusted gross income may claim them. Your attorney can provide more guidance on what would be most beneficial for your situation.

Filing Taxes With Shared Custody

If you and your former spouse share custody, meaning the child shares equal time with each parent, the person with the highest adjusted gross income should claim them on their income taxes. This is not legally required, though, so either parent may still claim the children.

Again, it is always a good idea to have this as part of your divorce decree so there is no confusion later on.

Prepare for Tax Time With The Doyle Law Group

As you can see, the answer to who claims the children on their taxes doesn’t have a clear answer.

If you became separated or divorced last year, it’s important to have a plan for claiming your child(ren) on your taxes. Not sure which is the best course of action for your family? Contact our office at (919) 263-5629 or fill out our online contact form below to speak with a divorce attorney.

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