Dependency Exemption for Children

Who Gets to Write Off the Kids for Tax Purposes?

After a divorce has been finalized, the question frequently arises about who gets the dependency exemption for children on his or her taxes. To be clear, only one parent can claim the child as a dependent in a given year. Deciding who gets the exemption, however, can sometimes be a difficult issue to resolve.

At Stange Law Firm, PC, our lawyers dedicate their entire practice to family law. We represent clients throughout Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma in all aspects of divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, property division and many other issues. We have a complete understanding of tax law as it applies to divorced couples, and you can count on us to help you through even the most complex matters.

Determining Who Gets the Exemption

In some cases, parents will include a provision in the divorce agreement indicating who will get the exemption. Sometimes they agree to take the exemption in alternate years or that one parent will have the exemption permanently. In the absence of such an agreement, Internal Revenue Service rules state that the parent who provided the greater amount of support to the child over the course of the year gets the exemption. In the majority of cases, this is presumed to be the custodial parent.

It is possible, however, for the noncustodial parent to claim the exemption provided that the following criteria are met:

  • The parents must have been divorced and living apart for the last six months of the year.
  • The noncustodial parent must have provided more than half of the child's support for the year.
  • The child was in the custody of either or both parents for the greater portion of the year.
  • An IRS Form 8332 is signed by the custodial parent releasing his or her claim to the exemption and attached to the noncustodial parent's tax return.

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