April Showers: Who Claim the Children on Taxes? – Stauff & Gross Law

With tax season coming to an end, many separated or divorced parents probably had to endure the reoccurring dilemma of claiming the children on taxes. As this can potentially be a great tax benefit, it is often a never-ending battle.

If parents agree how to address the deduction, the agreement can be in a separation agreement or a consent child custody or support order. There are several ways to decide which parent can claim the child or children. If there is more than one child, parents can split the deduction by one parent to claiming one child and the other parent claiming the other child each year. Another option is that one parent claims the child(ren) in even years and the other parent claims the child(ren) in odd years. Either of these options of sharing the deduction can be included in a separation agreement or child support order. The benefit of designating how to address the deduction is to have a way to enforce the issue if one parent is not complying.

If the parents do not agree, the judge will decide and include it in a child custody or child support order. The two options listed above are two of the scenarios that judges often include in child support orders. The other option is that one parent is able to claim the child or children each year.

If there is not a child support order or a separation agreement addressing the issue, then the parent who has primary custody of the children has the right to claim the children on taxes each year. That parent has to sign an IRS form to give this right to the other parent.

Oftentimes people wonder what to do if the parent who is not supposed to be able to claim the children files his or taxes first and claims the children. If both parents file their taxes and claim the same child or children, the IRS or Department of Revenue will investigate the tax returns to determine who should be able to claim the children. Such an investigation often delays receiving tax returns or refunds, if applicable, but it will resolve the issue eventually.

If you would like assistance regarding this issue or other family law matters, please call us at Stauff, Gross & Privette, PLLC to schedule a consultation with an attorney who can give you an individual assessment of your case. You can reach us at 919-576-7550.