Which Parent Claims a Child in a 50-50 Custody Split?

Which Parent Claims a Child in a 50-50 Custody Split?

Issues about taxes aren’t often at the forefront of parents’ minds when they are working out parenting time issues and custody agreements. Parents may have resolved issues of parenting time or even decision making, but it will often raise other questions that may have been less of a priority, —especially when it comes to claiming a dependent child (or children) at tax time.

Understanding how and when a dependent child can be claimed on taxes when you have joint parenting time and decision making is crucial to protecting your rights and interests. It can also keep you on the right side of the taxman.

Who Can Claim a Dependent When Parents Have Joint Parenting Time and Decision Making?

In co-parenting arrangements, parents must abide by any terms regarding taxes that have been set forth in their parenting plan or any existing court orders. These terms will override the IRS rules.

Usually, confusion arises when:

  • The parenting plan or court orders do not mention taxes: In these cases, IRS rules would come into play, and the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the year would typically get to claim the child on his or her taxes.
  • A release has been signed: If either parent has signed a “Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents,” that individual will have essentially forfeited his or her right to claim the child as a dependent at tax time.
  • Both parents try to claim a child: Only one parent can claim a dependent child in a given tax year (when parents are not married and filing taxes separately). If both parents attempt to claim the child on their taxes, those returns will likely get flagged, and an audit (for one or both parents!) could follow.

Self-Assessment: Can I Claim a Dependent Child on My Taxes?

Ask and answer these questions to get a better idea of whether you may be able to claim a child who is part of a joint custody case as a dependent on your taxes.

  1. How much time have you spent with the child in the last year? – The IRS usually requires parents to have spent at least 183 days (over the prior 12 months) with a child in order to be considered the custodial parent for tax purposes.
  2. Where does your child primarily sleep? – The parent with whom a child primarily spends the night is usually considered to be the custodial parent.
  3. Who is the primary financial contributor? – If a child’s time is pretty evenly split between both parents, the parent who contributes more financially to support the child’s needs may be eligible to claim the child on taxes in more years under Colorado law.
  4. How many children are involved in the case? – When multiple children are involved, there can be more flexibility in how and when dependents are claimed by each parent on their taxes. For example, parents may choose to claim certain children year after year, leaving others for the other parent to claim. Or parents may rotate which children they claim on their taxes.

This may be just the start of what you need to consider when you’re working out tax issues related to child custody cases. Given everything that can be at stake, make sure you have all the answers you need about a custody case and your rights. Make sure you contact Littman Family Law and Mediation Services.

Our Denver Child Custody Attorneys Are Ready to Help You

The Denver family and child custody lawyers at Littman Family Law and Mediation Services have more than 40 years of experience providing exceptional representation in child custody cases, divorce, post-decree modifications, child support matters, mediation cases, and more.

We believe clients should play an active role in resolving their legal problems, and we consider our clients to be part of our team. That’s why we always keep our clients informed and why we work relentlessly to help them achieve their goals. Find out more about how we can help you in or after a child custody case by contacting us now.

Call 303-832-4200 or contact us online for a confidential, no-obligation consultation.

Solving your legal problems and putting your needs first are priorities for the Denver child custody lawyers at Littman Family Law and Mediation Services. We strive to use our skills, experience, and resources to bring your case to the best resolution possible. Let’s discuss your options and next steps in a confidential meeting today.

Littman Family Law and Mediation Services

1772 Emerson Street
Denver, CO 80218
Phone: 303-832-4200
Fax: 303-832-9322
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