The Child Tax Credit: The Federal Law & How the Divorce Court Handles it

As you are likely aware if you have a child, there is a credit which may be claimed when filing your income tax.  For 2014 tax returns, the deduction from income was $3,950.00.

Federal Law states, in part, that in the case of parents residing separately, the parent with whom the child lives for the majorty of time is the one entitled to claim the child on their taxes to receive this credit.  If the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent (a 50/50 parenting time schedule), then the parent with the highest adjusted gross income is the correct parent to receive the credit.

IMPORTANTLY, if the tax credit is requested by a non-majority timesharing parent, the Court will normally order that parent may claim the child for tax purposes in alternating years so long as he or she is current on child support payments. 

If you are a non-majority timesharing parent who is entitled to claim your child for a tax exemption, it is best to ensure the majority timesharing parent completes FORM 8332, which informs the IRS of your entitlement, and attaches such form to his or her tax return.  If the other parent is not cooperating, you can provide a copy of your Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (together with your Marital Settlement Agreement, if applicable) and the IRS will review the same to determine your rights.

See The Dependency Exemption for Minor Children: When Following the Rules Pays Off, The Florida Bar Journal, January 2015.