In Texas and elsewhere, divorce is no walk in the park. When the spouses involved are also parents, achieving a fair settlement may be even more challenging because of child custody issues. One of numerous important matters that parents must resolve, for instance, is who will claim the children as dependents on tax returns after divorce.
Is there a primary custodial parent?
If the court grants one parent sole physical custody of his or her children, then that parent is legally identified as the primary custodial parent. This makes the other parent a noncustodial parent, although he or she may have visitation privileges. In most cases, the primary custodial parent is the one who claims the children as dependents on tax returns. It is sometimes possible, however, for a custodial parent to relinquish tax benefits to a noncustodial parent.
What happens in a shared child custody arrangement?
There are many Texas parents who share custody of their children 50/50 after divorce. This can complicate tax issues because only one parent is allowed to claim the children as dependents in a particular tax year. Some co-parents resolve this issue by having one parent claim some of the children on his or her tax returns while the other parent claims the others. Trading off year by year may be another tax return option in a shared custody situation, meaning parents alternate years to claim dependents.
Parents must fulfill requirements and adhere to tax laws
Even if one parent agrees to let the other claim children as dependents on his or her tax returns, if the parent in question does not meet the requirements to do so, then the issue is moot. It is critical that a Texas parent who is navigating child custody in divorce seeks clarification of tax laws as they relate to the topic. If custody issues and tax issues intersect that spark a legal problem between parents, a concerned parent may reach out for additional support by discussing the topic with an experienced family law attorney.