Tax Custody ConsiderationsFiling your taxes can be a complicated task, and for those that have a custody schedule or order for your child, you may have additional questions when it comes to your income tax return.  You may be wondering if you are able to claim your child as a dependent and what factors are considered when this decision is made.

The following information may help you figure out where you stand with claiming your child as a dependent, and what other options might be available:

Primary Physical Custody

If a custody order grants 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.

Shared Physical Custody

If a custody order that requires 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.

Tax Benefits of Claiming a Dependent Child
There are tax benefits that come with claiming a dependent child. Some include the exemption for the child, the child tax credit, head of household filing status, the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the exclusion from income for dependent care benefits, and the earned income credit.

Other Considerations

No matter what custody schedule is set forth in an order of court, whether primary, shared or other, the parents can determine who will receive the dependency exemption for the child by way of an agreement and execution of tax forms. Tax Form 8332, for example, could be used to (1) release the  claim for exemption of your child so that the noncustodial parent can claim the exemption, or (2) revoke a previous release of claim for exemption of  your child. It’s important to note that both parents are not able to claim the dependent child.

If you have questions for us about custody or need representation, meet with our lawyers and we can discuss your situation thoroughly and assess your options. We understand the issues that may arise with child custody, and we are here to help. Contact us online or call our law firm at 412-261-4040.

The attorneys of Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have experience in child custody and visitation matters. Since 1978, we have assisted clients across western Pennsylvania in resolving family law issues. Our founding partner, Joanne Ross Wilder, wrote the handbook used across the state by practitioners and judges in the family law arena.


Legal Separation
Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Tax Issues
Domestic Partnerships
Child Custody
Family Support