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Can I Claim My Child as a Tax Dependent After Divorce in Illinois? 

Posted on in Divorce

wheaton divorce lawyerWhen spouses are married, they generally file their taxes jointly and claim their children as dependent exemptions. But after the divorce is finalized, parents begin filing taxes independently. A question then arises: Who gets to claim the children on their tax returns? 

Divorce contains many such tax issues, and this article discusses general strategies for how parents might handle the particular issue of claiming children as tax exemptions. If you are in need of legal advice, contact a qualified divorce attorney. 

Tax Exemptions in the Divorce Decree

Everybody knows that the divorce decree addresses the most pressing issues related to children: Allocation of parental responsibilities, division of parenting time, and child support. But the divorce decree can also address important issues like which parent gets to claim a child as a tax exemption. Tax exemptions can be as good as cash in a parent’s pocket, but each child can only be claimed once - understandably, parents may disagree over who gets to claim the children. 

Neglecting to proactively address this issue can lead to serious and complicated issues in the future. The IRS views the parent with the most parenting time as the custodial parent, and if divorcees do not make arrangements in their divorce decree regarding tax exemptions, the IRS will assume the custodial parent claims the children. 

Divide Child Tax Exemptions as Part of a Broader Divorce Finance Agreement 

The wisest option is for parents to decide who will claim the children on their taxes before the divorce decree is finalized. Parents may be more likely to come to an agreeable resolution if they can split the exemptions in an equitable way. For example, one parent may claim the children one year, and the other parent the next. Or one parent may always claim the youngest child while the other parent always claims the oldest. Whatever the arrangement, the benefits of tax exemptions can be part of the broader discussion regarding asset division, spousal maintenance, and other financial issues. 

What Happens if One of Us Wrongfully Claims Our Children? 

If a divorce order determines who gets to claim the children as tax dependents, flouting this order to wrongfully claim a child violates not only the legally binding court order, but violates federal tax laws as well. The IRS may initiate an audit and a parent may end up spending far more money to remedy their error than they ever hoped to save by claiming a child. 

Consult with a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Understanding the tax implications of getting divorced is crucial for planning for your financial future. At The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C., we have extensive experience handling even the most complex of divorces and can help you understand your options under Illinois law. Meet with a Wheaton, IL divorce attorney who has experience handling tax dependent arrangements after divorce. Call us today at 630-462-9500 to schedule your initial confidential consultation. 




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