Claiming Children on Taxes With 50/50 Custody

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Shared custody arrangements bring about various responsibilities and questions. One particular issue that often arises is determining which parent is entitled to claim the child for tax benefits. This question, while seemingly simple, is surrounded by legal stipulations that can have significant implications. That is to say, making an incorrect decision can lead to financial repercussions and may also complicate co-parenting arrangements. Such complications can inadvertently impact the stability and structure essential to the child’s development.

Determining ahead of time who claims a child on taxes with 50/50 custody, then, is imperative. To address such concerns, it is advisable to consult a Virginia child custody attorney at ShounBach. Experienced in the nuances of custody agreements and related tax laws, our attorneys can provide guidance on your child custody concerns and mitigate potential disputes.

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Claiming a Child as a Dependent in Virginia

When looking for tax deductions each year, parents often list their children as dependents. Yet, when separation or divorce occurs, the tax code clearly lays out how this will change for one of you.

Essentially, if you have a child you would like to claim as a dependent for tax purposes, the child must meet the IRS qualifying test. This federal tax law test applies to your own children or a relative that you wish to claim. If you have sole physical custody of the child, you will be able to claim this child if one of the following criteria is met:

  • The child is younger than you and also under 19 years old, OR
  • They are under 24 years of age and a student.

This age limit, however, does not apply to children who are considered disabled, whether temporarily or permanently. For more guidance on this type of situation, seek legal advice from an experienced Virginia custody attorney.

Can Both Parents Claim a Child as a Dependent?

While you may want to find a way to share legal custody of a child, both parents will not be able to claim that child as a dependent on their taxes. Even if the parents have a 50/50 split custody arrangement, only one of you can legally claim the child when filing. While this may not seem fair, it is a reality, and understanding which of you can file will help to avoid issues down the road.

If both parents do end up claiming the child as a dependent on their same-year tax returns, the IRS will not overlook the error. You may both find yourselves in a complicated situation requiring your time and attention and may even bring penalties.

Who Gets to Claim a Child on Taxes With Split Custody?

Following a separation or being fully divorced parents, establishing child custody will be an essential step. If you have joint custody, however, filing taxes can become a source of contention and will require a legal resolution regarding who can claim one or more children as dependents.

For this resolution, if parents have 50/50 custody of the child, the IRS will implement a tiebreaker rule. This rule states that the parent with majority custody of the child can claim them on their taxes. That is to say, whoever has physical custody of the child for 183 days and nights of actual parenting time will be considered the custodial parent. The non-custodial one will be unable to maintain any right to claim them on tax returns.

In the rare instance where the child spends equal time with each parent (182.5 days per calendar year), then the IRS can apply a second tiebreaker rule. In this rule, precedence is given to the parent that has the higher adjusted gross income. Still, even with such IRS rules, the parent claiming the child as a dependent has the potential to change in alternate years. If one of your incomes increases and rises above the other, then the ability to claim the child can switch.

Can Parents Choose Who Claims the Child on Their Taxes?

When you have an equal custody agreement in place, leaving the decision up to a government agency as to who gets to claim your dependent child on taxes may not sit well with you or your ex-spouse or partner. To avoid the IRS implementing its tiebreaker rules, there is an option. Parents in split custody agreements can choose who claims the child on their taxes.

It is essential to note, however, that if a custodial parent chooses to allow the non-custodial parent to claim the child as a dependent, they will need to file a Release of Claim to Exemption IRS form. The noncustodial parent will then need to attach this executed exemption form to their own tax forms.

A father playing with his son

What Can I Do if My Ex is Claiming My Child on Taxes?

If the child’s other parent (your ex-spouse or partner) is claiming your child on taxes, you may be wondering what you can do. To start, you may be able to file a motion to enforce any divorce decree or separation agreement, which includes reference to dependent credits. This way, you can fight for the return of any credits you are owed.

What you do not want to do is to also claim that child on your own taxes. Why? If you both file the child as a dependent, the IRS will flag both returns and likely audit one or both of you. The IRS will then require each of you to prove the status of the child’s dependency and then amend your tax return. This action can be a timely process that causes a delay in any credits expected from filing a claim for a dependent.

At a time like this, you may want to consult with a dedicated Virginia family law attorney to see what options you have and how to go about retaining your rights. The custody attorneys with ShounBach have ample experience in various financial and tax matters and will be able to examine the situation through a wider view.

Why Clients Choose ShounBach

Separation, divorce, and child custody arrangements can be complicated and emotional, and you need to know you can count on your chosen attorney to fight for your rights and specific needs. Our clients say it best, and their testimonials, like the two below, tell why clients choose ShounBach.

Are You In Need of a Virginia Child Custody Attorney?

Establishing custody of children is an essential part of any separation or divorce, and this decision can affect not only the child’s welfare but also bring with it specific financial and tax implications. While gaining 50/50 split custody may suit your particular circumstances, issues can still abound going forward, including who can claim children on tax returns each year.

Whether you are seeking advice on child support, spousal support, custody arrangements, or dealing with post-separation or divorce issues, such as tax filings, help is available. Seek the legal guidance of a Virginia child custody attorney with ShounBach here in Northern Virginia. As the testimonials on our website confirm, we value the attorney-client relationship and will continually fight for your rights. Call 703-222-3333 or use our online contact form to schedule that all-important appointment today.

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Written By ShounBach

Since 1975, ShounBach has served the Northern Virginia community. Our team brings over 200 years of combined legal experience and has grown to be one of Virginia’s largest family and estate law firms.

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