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Which parent is entitled to tax exemption in divorce?

A separation can be an major life change for adults and children alike. A divorce, as many Connecticut residents are aware, can have repercussions across many facets of family life. With tax time fast approaching, it may benefit parents considering divorce to become knowledgeable about child custody issues and, most notably, which parent will be able to claim the children on a tax return.

Usually, the tax exemption defaults to the parent who is responsible for the child or children most of the time. This parent is called the "custodial" parent and is identified as the one who has the children most nights out of the year. Of course, in the modern era, many divorcing parents make an effort to make the time their children spend with each parent as equal as possible to help limit the detrimental effects of a separation on child development.

If this is the case, the noncustodial parent may be allowed to take advantage of the tax benefits of claiming children. If parents discuss and agree upon a "schedule" ahead of time, it may be possible for parents to trade off on the benefit year-to-year (dad claims the kids in 2014, mom in 2015, and so on). The IRS typically honors any such arrangement as long as it is correctly included in the divorce paperwork.

Determining what is best in a divorce scenario for an individual Connecticut family is largely up to the parents of that family. However, it may benefit both parents to understand how child benefits and tax exemptions work before embarking on the divorce process. The more knowledge with which one approaches the negotiation table, the smoother the negotiations can progress.

Source: The Huffington Post, Children of Divorce: Who Gets the Tax Exemption?, Stann Givens, Mar. 13, 2014

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