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Claiming children as dependents after a divorce

Usually, after Georgia parents get a divorce, it is the custodial parent who is allowed to claim the child as a dependent on taxes. However, parents do not always agree on this, and sometimes, the non-custodial parent may also try to claim the child.

If this happens, it may be necessary to go through channels at the IRS to correct the error. The IRS accepts the claim from the first parent to file a return. In disputes, the IRS allows the parent the child resides with most of the time to claim the child as dependent. If the parents have joint custody and the child does not clearly spend more time with one or the other, the IRS gives the right to the parent who has the highest adjusted gross income. In some cases, the custodial parent is willing to waive the right to claim the child as dependent and can do so by completing IRS Form 8332. This can give the other parent the right for one year or longer.

The passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed how parents can claim dependents on their taxes. It doubled the Child Tax Credit to $2,000, eliminated the personal exemption and kept the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

As this issue demonstrates, the things parents may need to negotiate in a divorce are not limited to child custody, visitation and support. Some parents might agree they will alternate taking the child as a dependent. When parents have more than one child, they may agree that each of them can claim a child as a dependent. Parents may want to include this in their settlement agreement, but after the divorce, courts generally prefer that parents work out minor parenting disputes between themselves.

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