Who has the right to claim dependents in divorce cases?

May 10, 2000

Answer

Date:  January 2000

Sometimes what seems like a small, simple questions is actually a can of worms.

Generally, the "custodial parent" gets the dependency exemption.

The custodial parent is named in the decree of divorce, a subsequent custody decree, or, if there is neither, a separation agreement. Physical custody is superceded by the decree.

When the parents share custody, the parent who has physical custody of the child for the most days of the taxable year is the custodial parent.

The custodial parent may release the exemption to the other parent using IRS Form 8332.

The parents may only claim the exemption when, together, they provide more than one-half of the support for the child for the taxable year.

Remember that the exemption deduction is phased out when a taxpayer has a high taxable income.

Good luck!
Mike Gray

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