April 15 is looming and for the majority of Americans, that is the deadline to file yearly income taxes. One of the many issues that need to be decided in a child support and/or child custody case is which parent will be able to claim the dependent exemption on his or her tax return each year. Although this may seem like a fairly easy question to answer, it often becomes one of the most contentious factors in child custody negotiations.
Tax Dependency Exemption and the Primary Residential Parent
Most parents who have the majority of parenting time (i.e. physical custody) often feel that they are the parent who should be able to claim the tax dependency exemption. On the other hand, parents who are not the primary residential parent feel they should be able to claim the dependent exemption due to the amount of money they are required to pay towards their child support obligations each month. However, it is up to the judge in each individual case to decide who gets the exemption.
The judge may decide that the primary residential parent should always get the exemption. Or, he or she may decide the other parent should always get the exemption. The judge can also decide that each parent will get to claim the exemption on alternate years. However, if there are years that the parent who is not the primary residential parent is allowed to claim the exemption, then that parent must also submit the proper paperwork with his or her tax return to the IRS. This is form 8332 and the IRS considers this a primary residential parent’s release to his or her right to claim the child as a dependent on his or her tax return.
There are two options the IRS gives to parents regarding submitting Form 8332. Either the primary residential parent can sign the document each year the other parent has been granted the right to claim the child as a dependent, or the primary residential parent can fill the form out in a way that grants his or her release for the future. If the primary residential parent chooses the second option, then he or she does have the right to cancel future releases at a later time.
What if the Primary Residential Parent Will Not Sign the Form?
Unfortunately, the IRS does not recognize child custody or divorce decrees. The agency only recognizes Form 8332. If the primary residential parent refuses to sign the release, then the other parent cannot take the exemption, even if it is his or her legal right to do so. In this situation, the only option the other parent has is to go back to family court and let the judge handle the situation.
Child Custody Issues
Unlike other family law issues, issues regarding child custody and child support are ongoing, especially if children of the relationship are young when their parents break up. If you are having issues regarding tax dependent exemptions with your co-parent, or any other family law problems, contact a seasoned DuPage County family law attorney. Call Roscich & Martel Law Firm, LLC at (630) 793-6337 to schedule your confidential consultation today