The following rules apply when determining which parent claims a child as a dependent where both parents together provide more than 50% of support, the child is in the custody of the parent(s) over half of the year, and the parents are divorced or legally separated under a written agreement, or lived apart at least the last six months of the year.
BASIC RULE: The basic rule is that the custodial parent—defined as the parent with whom the child resides for the greater number of nights during the year—claims the dependent. Note that divorce and family court rulings cannot trump Federal law, and the only way the non-custodial parent can claim a child as a dependent is if they qualify under one of the exceptions below:
EXCEPTIONS: The non-custodial parent can claim the exemption if:
(A) The custodial parent signs a statement assigning the dependency to the other parent. The non-custodial parent then must attach the statement to his/her tax return. IRS Form 8332 is used for this purpose. The exemption release can cover a single year, a number of specific years, or all future years. There may be no strings attached to securing the release (such as conditioning the release on timely child support payments). The Form 8332 release is revocable, but the revocation is effective only with the tax year following the one in which the revocation is signed —so exercise caution when signing over exemptions to the other parent for multiple years. If there is any doubt, contact this office before signing the release.
(B) The child's dependency exemption is determined under a multiple support agreement. A multiple support agreement is one where a group of taxpayers provide the dependent's support and agree among themselves who is to claim the dependency.
There are additional qualifications so please call this office for assistance.