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Child Custody, Dependents, and Your Taxes

Be careful when you are filing your taxes for the first time after divorce: even if your children spend equal time with you, you may not be able to declare them as dependents.

Depending on the state in which you reside, tax laws are tricky when it comes to child custody and child support matters. Since even the most recent IRS regulations nor tax codes specifically explain what the definition of custody or a custodial parent, deciding who can claim dependency can be complicated. While the majority of custody arrangements have normally been based on the mother taking custody of the child, times have changed and so too have custody arrangements.

In most cases you can only claim children as dependents if the court designated you as the primary custodian. If there is no such formal declaration, then the parent who has physical custody of the child for the majority of the year is given the opportunity to declare dependency. But what happens if you have joint custody? In some cases couples will alternate years that they claim dependency if they have one child; couples who have more than one child can split up the dependency as well if both the children spend equal time with their parents.

Do you have questions about child custody? Contact us to discuss your concerns with a Long Island family law attorney.