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I have kids but they don't live with me and I pay child support what can I do

2 Replies
Level 15

I have kids but they don't live with me and I pay child support what can I do

Child support is not entered on a tax return.  And if they do not live with you, you do not enter anything about them on your tax return unless you have a signed form 8332 from the other parent, that says you can get the child tax credit.  Without that form, you enter nothing about them on your tax return.  

The parent they live with is their custodial parent.

**Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to offer the most correct information possible. The poster disclaims any legal responsibility for the accuracy of the information that is contained in this post.**
Level 15

I have kids but they don't live with me and I pay child support what can I do

The custodial parent has first priority on claiming the children on her taxes; regardless of the amount of support provided by the non-custodial parent. The IRS goes by physical custody, not legal custody. The non-custodial parent can only claim the child as a dependent if the custodial parent gives permission (on form 8332) or if it's spelled out in a pre 2009 divorce decree. Even if a divorce decree, dated after 2008, gives the non-custodial parent the right to claim the child, he must still get form 8332 from the custodial parent. A properly worded decree should require her to provide that form.


There is a way to split the tax benefits. For future negotiations with the other parent (and maybe even for this year) the following info may be of use:

 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.

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