One of the things parents fight over is the right to claim a child as a dependent on their tax returns. Much money is spent on this issue alone. Some parties spend even more money than the actual exemption would yield them through the years just because of the principal of the matter.
What is at the heart of the argument is who can be listed on line 6c of the Form 1040. To seal the right to claim a child as a dependent, a party should obtain a signed Form 6338 from the other parent which voluntarily relinquishes the other parent’s right to claim the child listed.
Just racing to the mailbox with your 1040, to beat the other parent to the mailbox, doesn’t cut it. You see, the IRS essentially looks to see with whom the child is spending the most nights. In other words, whom does the child spend more time with during the year? It’s not because one parent sent in a 1040 before the other one did.
Of course, the Family Court’s hands are generally tied with regard to Federal matters such as choosing dependents, so the Court rarely seems to rule on who gets the child for claiming the exemption. The best way to secure a right to claim your child as a dependent on your tax return is to get an agreement early on and get the proper form signed.