When you and your spouse have children and file taxes together, you may enjoy certain tax benefits by claiming the child as a dependent. However, once you and your spouse divorce, you need to figure out how to handle this moving forward, as both of you may not claim the same child for tax purposes.
When one of you has primary custody, the party who does typically claims the child on taxes. However, if the two of you share equal custody, things become a bit more complex.
When one of you has primary custody
While the parent with primary custody often claims the child on taxes, that parent has the option of transferring the right to claim the child to the other parent if certain conditions exist. To do so, you and the other parent must have divorced or separated at least six months ago. The child also has to stay with one or both of you for at least half the year, and one of you must provide more than half of the child’s financial support.
When you share custody
If you and your former spouse spend the same amount of time parenting your son or daughter, you may decide to divide the tax benefits that come with having a child. A common method of doing so is to have one of you claim the child one year, and then the other party do the same the following year. If you have an even number of children, you may decide to each claim half the children for tax purposes each year.
The rules surrounding claiming children as dependents may change from year to year, so it is important that divorcing parents stay abreast of any ongoing changes.