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Who Gets to Claim the Child for Taxes?

It’s tax season, which means that there will be roughly a 50/50 split on parents who are getting a refund this year and parents that are paying. If you have previously been through a divorce or paternity case, there is likely language in your Final Judgment regarding which parent can claim the child for tax purposes each year through the Child Tax Credit (CTC). This could result in a large credit for the parent claiming the child, so it is something that both parents should be aware of.

The U.S. Tax Code §24 allows parents to claim a qualifying child for tax purposes. There are many different provisions in determining a “qualifying child,” so both parents should familiarize themselves with those. One of the most common complaints we hear as family law attorneys is from fathers who have not been through the process of having paternity established. In these cases, more times than not, the mother is the party who will be allowed to claim the child as she is determined to be the child’s guardian until otherwise determined by the Court.

Another common problem comes from divorced parents who already have a Final Judgment. This usually stems from one parents claiming the child when it is not his or her year. This can result in very expensive and burdensome litigation and possible sanctions from the Court including having to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees, being held in contempt, repayment of refund amount the other party would have received, and possibly having to amend your tax return. This can be time-consuming and stressful so the best advice is to review your Final Judgment before filing and let the other parent know that you will be filing for the CTC if it is your year.

If you've spoken with your tax professional but still have questions about how the Child Tax Credit works, we're here to help. Call 904-608-3694 to speak with an attorney today.

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