With tax season once again upon us, recent divorcees may have questions about their tax filing status as well as whether they may claim minor children on their tax returns.
With regard to filing status, you marital status as of December 31 st determines how you may file. If your divorce was finalized at any time during the tax filing year you may file as head of household or single. However, if your divorce is not finalized by the last day of the year, for tax purposes you are still considered married.
Federal law allows custodial parents to claim their children as dependents and take advantage of certain tax credits. Some divorce decrees specify how the child (or children) may be claimed. For example, the order may indicate that the custodial parent may claim the child for tax purposes. It may indicate that the parties shall alternate use of the child tax exemption, or it may direct them to share any refund received as a result of the exemption.
If your decree doesn’t say anything about dependents, you may be able to claim your child if you meet the following requirements:
- You and your spouse are filing separate returns
- You have paid over half the expenses of maintaining your residence for the year
- You provided more than half of your child’s financial support for the year
- Your child has lived with you a majority of the time
- Your ex-spouse hasn’t lived with you for the last six months of the year at minimum
Keep in mind that the child must also be a U.S. citizen. If the child was 18 years or older but was a student, and made less than $2,800 last year, you may be able to claim him or her on your return. Also, if your ex-spouse claimed your children before you could file your return, an attorney can help you sort out the matter and deal with the IRS.
The preceding is not intended to be legal advice. If you have further questions about tax issues, contact a lawyer.