Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.
Which parent should claim the children as dependents on their taxes when separated or divorced? Working as a lawyer in family law matters in Jacksonville, Florida, I get this question often. If there are children involved in a divorce, then typically one parent will be responsible for paying child support and one parent will have the children the majority of the time. In essence, both parents are responsible for the expenses created for the children, so determining which parent gets to claim the children on his/her taxes comes down to the facts surrounding the case.
If the divorce is finalized without a clause in the final order establishing which parent claims the children as a dependent on annual taxes, then typically the parent with the majority of time with the children will claim the children as dependents on the annual taxes. However, the parties can agree that they will alternate years of claiming the children as dependents on their annual taxes.
If the parents have equal time-sharing with the children, there may be a presumption created that they will alternate tax years. However, the presumption is not one that is legally binding if one parent chooses to claim the on taxes and files before the other. This may create an issue with the IRS and without the final order from the divorce specifically establishing the plan, then it may be the first filed will be honored.
If you are divorcing and have children, then make certain to address this issue with your <a href="“>attorney and the court. In a divorce order, you want to verify that there is a clause regarding the dependents being claimed so that there is no confusion or issues that arise with your ex-spouse or the IRS.