Child custody and child support can seem complicated enough on the surface, but it can be even more overwhelming when you consider all of the legal ramifications that lie below the surface. For example: If there is joint custody then which parent is able to claim the kids on their tax return? Keep reading to get the facts about this type of case and then contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 if you are in need of a consultation with a family law attorney.
Cases of Shared Custody
As far as the law goes, you can claim your child if they are financially dependent on you. You can claim an exemption for yourself, another for your spouse (if you file together), and one each for each dependent child in your home. It is possible that if you are paying child support for a child that does not live with you, the court may allow for you to claim the deduction.
Think of it this way: Taxes simply reflect finances – not living situations. If one parent is paying for the costs of the child and another parent is raising the child, the one who is financially responsible would likely be the one who could claim the child on their taxes.
Cases of 50/50 Custody
In the event that you and your co-parent have split custody, then it may not be obvious who should get the tax exemption. In most cases, whatever court handled your custody case will include the tax exemption in their order and the rule should be clear. However, you mand your co-parent may be able to negotiate to come to a conclusion about the exemption yourselves.
Generally speaking, if both parents share time halfway and both parents pay for half of the child’s financial needs, then the exemption will go to the parent with a higher income. However, that parent can fill out an IRS form to essentially grant the exemption to the other party. This may come in exchange for additional time with the child or another negotiated bonus. Some parents will take turns and claim their child every other year. If you have more than one child then you may split the exemptions.
Only One Parent Can Claim the Exemption – Be Sure You Know Which One It Is
The bottom line is that while this may seem like a minor issue, it is essential that you know who gets the exemption. If you claim it when you are not legally able to do so, and your co-parent also claims it, then you could end up in trouble with the IRS. If neither you nor your co-parent claims it then you are essentially leaving money on the table.
If you have questions about child custody, child support, and other family law issues, we welcome your call to Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908.