Who Can Claim a Child as Dependent on Taxes After Divorce?


Divorce disrupts many aspects of family life. Divorced parents must learn to navigate the complex system of being the custodial and non-custodial parents of a child who spends time in both households. Although the court tries to maintain the best interest of the child in its custody order, child custody is still difficult for most families.

Claiming a child as a dependent on your taxes can be confusing after a divorce. Are you entitled to claim the child on your taxes as the primary caretaker? Do non-custodial parents have the right to claim their child on their taxes, even if their child spent more time in the custodial parent’s home?

Learn more below about child custody and tax credits.

Taxes and Divorce with Children

In a child custody case, the court will name one parent as the physical custodial parent, who will maintain the child’s home and lifestyle the majority of the time. The non-custodial parent will also have shared time with the child, but for less than half the year.

The court also considers legal custody, which is the right of either parent to make key decisions for the child, including about the child’s education, religion, and healthcare. In joint custody, both the custodial and non-custodial parent must make these decisions together. In sole custody, the custodial parent makes these decisions for the child themselves.

Does the structure of the custody order affect either parent’s right to claim a child on their taxes? Generally, the IRS allows the custodial parent to claim children as dependent. However, you and your ex-spouse may come to a different agreement in your child custody order to alternate claimed years.

Tax Credits and Other Benefits

Claiming a child as a dependent may allow you to take advantage of any of several tax credits, including:

  • The Child Tax Credit: This deduction allows you to reduce your tax liability by $2,000 per child up to $0. It will not result in a refund.
  • The Additional Child Tax Credit: If a parent has a balance owed by the IRS for a tax refund from the child tax credit, they may receive up to $1,400 per child in a tax refund if they apply for this separate tax credit.
  • Earned Income Credit (EIC): If you have earned less than $55,952 for the year and your child spends over half the year with you, you may claim the EIC. Non-custodial parents can claim children but don’t qualify for EIC if they don’t have physical custody for over half the year.
  • Filing as Head of Household: If you file a separate return, pay more than half the household expenses for the year, and are the primary caregiver for more than half the year, you may file as head of household.

Contact a Las Vegas Family Law Firm to Learn More About Taxes and Child Custody

Claiming a child as a dependent after a divorce can be a confusing discussion with your ex-spouse. Contact us at Naimi Mullins Law Group for more information about divorce, child custody, and taxes. Schedule a consultation at our office in Las Vegas, NV.

The post Who Can Claim a Child as Dependent on Taxes After Divorce? appeared first on Naimi Mullins Law Group.

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