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Who claims the children on taxes?

Filing taxes is confusing enough without worrying about how your new divorced status will change things. If you've always filed jointly with your spouse and have children, chances are you've not given a lot of thought to how this will change now that you are single filing alone. So who actually gets to claim children as dependents when the parents are divorced? Well there are three primary ways to figure it out.

Depending on who has custody or what the placement schedule is, a judge can order one parent the right to claim a child as a dependent. Maybe you have joint physical custody with 50/50 placement. In that case you could agree to flip-flop each year, you claiming on the even years and your ex on the odd years. Likewise, if one of you has primary placement, it may make sense for that person to claim children as dependents each year since they are the primary parent.

If you and your ex can't agree on the tax rights to your child, a family court judge could put an order in place, making the arrangement for you. Depending on the situation, who has custody and the placement schedule, a judge can order one parent the right to claim a child as dependent. The judge may also consider who stands to benefit the most from claiming the dependent or who needs the exemption more when making their decision.

If no agreement can be made and there is no order making one, the IRS has ways to determine which parent receives the exemption. There are five test questions that the IRS may ask of parents to determine who can rightfully claim a child as a dependent. The test questions are fairly straight forward and asks things like if the child lived with you all year and if you provided more than 50 percent of their financial support. If you answer all the questions yes, you may get to claim your child.

If you are facing a custody battle and have questions about claiming your child as a dependent or other custody related issues, you may benefit from speaking to a trusted family law attorney.

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Our office is conveniently located off Highway 50, just three miles from the Sacramento County Family Courthouse and minutes from Downtown Sacramento. For your convenience, we accept all major credit cards.

Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
Fax: 916-498-0127
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