A party’s right to claim one’s child as a dependent on income tax returns depends upon the number of overnight custody periods the child spends with that parent. The parent with the greater number of overnight custody periods of the child during a tax year will be entitled to claim the child as a dependent on their tax returns for that tax year. If the child spends an equal number of overnights with each parent during the year, the parent with the higher income is entitled to claim the child as a dependent on his or her tax return. The parties can also agree on which parent can claim the child as dependent, but must execute the proper tax form to effectuate such agreement.
The practical effect of the law is demonstrated in the following examples: 1) if a custody order that provides one party primary physical custody (more than 50% of the overnight custody of the child), with the other parent receiving periods of partial physical custody (less than 50% of the overnight custody of the child), the parent granted primary physical custody under the order would therefore be entitled to claim the dependency exemption for the child; 2) If a custody order provides for the parents to exercise shared physical custody of the child, the parent with more overnight custody periods during the year receives the dependency exemption for the child, unless the parents have the exact same number overnight custody periods. In that instance, the parent with the higher income receives the dependency exemption for the child; 3) No matter what custody schedule is set forth in an order of court, the parents can determine who will receive the dependency exemption for the child by way of an agreement and execution of tax forms.
Often, issues of child custody and economic considerations intersect in the divorce realm. However, every case is different. If you are concerned about how such issues will affect your family, contact one of our lawyers to discuss your individual situation.
Few things in life are as traumatic, and potentially destructive, as divorce. For those facing divorce, fears abound regarding issues of the tax preparation, alimony and support, custody of children, and the maintenance of insurance, just to name a few.
Wilder, Mahood, McKinley & Oglesby is one of the oldest firms in Pittsburgh focusing on family law issues. Our founding partner, Joanne Ross Wilder, penned the handbook used across the state by practitioners and judges in the family law arena. Our attorneys, Brian E. McKinley ,Darren K. Oglesby and Bruce L. Wilder update the book annually to keep current with changes in the law and society. To consult with a Pittsburgh divorce attorney about your options in a divorce, contact us online or by calling 412-261-4040. We represent business and professional clients with family legal concerns across western Pennsylvania.