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Returning Member

Sharing dependents with the other parent

The other parent and I shared custody 50/50 in 2020, from January to August. I had to move out of state for financial reasons. She had sole custody from September thru November. I had sole custody in December. She claims that I have no claim to them as dependents in 2020. For years now we have switched off boys, one for her and one for me. 
based on the above mentioned living situation, do I have a claim to either boy as a 2020 dependent?

2 Replies
Employee Tax Expert

Sharing dependents with the other parent

Welcome to our Community!!!!


Claiming the Child tax credit in alternating is going to be an issue because the advance credits will be based on 2020 tax returns, or the most recent year the IRS has on file. Technically, though, the parent claiming the dependents for 2021 should get the payments, which can complicate things if the parents alternate years. 


For example: If Parent A claimed the child in 2020 but Parent B will claim him or her in 2021, Parent A will still get the advance payments, which means they may want to go ahead and waive them future tax payments because there’s a risk that if you’ll have to repay it in the 2021 tax season


My suggestion would be to the IRS Advance Portal, register and up your information using the link below:


the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant Website:


And lastly the Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 Website:


I would verify my eligibility and manage my account on the IRS website for clarification.




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Opus 17
Level 15

Sharing dependents with the other parent

"do I have a claim to either boy as a 2020 dependent?"




For children of divorced or separated parents, where the children lived with both parents more than half the nights of the year and both parents meet the basic qualifications to claim the children as dependents, the first tie breaker is which parent did the children live the greater number of nights.  It sounds like the children lived with you about 240 nights (8 months) but lived with the other parent about 330 nights (11 months).


The other parent can release one or both dependents to you, but the IRS does not require it.  If a court orders it, the IRS will not follow the court order, but will wait for a release form from the parent who has more custody time.  If you don't get the form, you can sue the other parent in family court but the IRS doesn't follow state court orders, only its own rules.


For 2021, if you have custody more days/nights than the other parent, then you are the parent who has automatic first right to claim the children on your 2021 tax return. 



All the rules are here.

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*
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