Taking A Child As A Dependent After A Divorce

After a divorce, who gets to take the children as a dependent (sometimes referred to as an exemption) on their tax returns?  This is a question that both lawyers and accountants often get.  The general rule is that the parent who has the child residing with them more than 50% (Fifty Percent) of the time gets to claim the child as a dependent.

However, in many divorce agreements, the parents will agree that the parent who earns more money and is paying child support will have the right to take the child as a dependent.  In those agreements, it does not matter if the child resides with the parent more than 50% of the time.  When there is more than one child, oftentimes, the parents will agree that each parent gets to take one child as a dependent and if there is an odd number of children, alternate each year who gets to take the “odd” numbered child.

For children over the age of 18, there are 5 tests that will determine if you can claim the child as a dependent.  They are:

  1. The child must be your child, an adopted child, or a foster child.
  2. The child must live with you for more than 50% of the year. However, as stated above, the parents can agree that one parent can claim the child, even if the child doesn’t live with you for more than 50% of the year.
  3. The child must either be under the age of 19 years of age or if they are a full-time student (for at least 5 months), then under the age of 24 years of age. If the child is totally and permanently disabled, they can be of any age.
  4. The child must not have provided more than 50% of their own support during the year.
  5. The child cannot file a joint return (with another person) for that year.

For the 2015 tax year, for a parent who files as an individual, the total deduction for each child is $4,000 but, the amount it is worth in actual dollars to you, depends on your marginal income tax rate.  For example, if your income tax rate is 25% (Twenty-Five Percent), then each deduction is worth $1,000 in actual dollars.  Please note, that for each tax year, the value of the tax deduction can change.

If you are getting divorced and need advice on who gets to take the children as a tax deduction, turn to the experts in divorce and accounting:

For Divorce: The Badanes Law Office and David Badanes, Esq.

For Accounting: Paul W. Siegel, CPA.

The Badanes Law Office represents clients in Long Island and New York City.  Paul W. Siegel represents clients in the New York metropolitan area.

If you need an attorney, call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office at 631-239-1702, email at david@dbnylaw.com or visit our website www.dbnylaw.com.  The Badanes Law Office has offices in Northport, Garden City, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

If you need an accountant, call Paul W. Siegel at 631-470-9756, email at pwsiegel@pwscpa.com or visit his website at www.pwscpa.com.  Mr. Siegel’s office is in Huntington Station.