Divorce question
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Divorce question

Our divorce was final 4 years ago. We have 6 kids together. What’s our best way for filing taxes? Can we each claim 3 and HoH

2 Replies
Level 15

Divorce question

How did you each file over the past 4 years?   With whom did the children live in 2020?  In order to file as HOH, 1 or more dependents must have resided with you more than 50% of the time.

Level 15

Divorce question

For tax purposes, there is no such thing as joint custody, regardless of what your legal agreement says. The requirement, to be custodial parent, is that the child live with you MORE than 50% of the time. One of you has to be the custodial parent and the other the non-custodial parent.


You may split the kids anyway you want, so yes you can each claim 3. However the non-custodial parent can only claim the kid as a dependent (for the child tax credit or other dependent credit [kids over 16]). He may not claim Earned Income credit, day care credit or head of household.  He may claim the child stimulus/rebate credit, even if the custodial parent already received it in 2020.


 There is a special rule in the case of divorced & separated (including never married) parents. When the non-custodial parent is claiming the child as a dependent/exemption/child tax credit; the custodial parent is still allowed to claim the same child for Earned Income Credit, Head of Household filing status, and day care credit. This "splitting of the child" is not available to parents who lived together at any time during the last 6 months of the year; then only one of you can claim the child for any tax reasons. The tax benefits may not be split in any other manner.

Note in particular that the non-custodial parent can never claim the Earned Income Credit, Head of Household filing status or the day care credit, based on that child, even when the custodial parent has released the dependency to him.

 So, it's good idea to let the other parent know that you will be claiming those items, as many first time divorced parents are not aware of this rule and may try to claim those items, which will cause the IRS to send out letters.

Ref: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17#en_US_2017_publink1000170897

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