parent hopes to claim kids on taxes


            Posted on April 19, 2015  

              Parent hopes to claim kids on taxes

Q. My ex-husband and I have equal time with our two teenage children. We earn about the same and there is no child support. The divorce process was awful. My ex is mean and abusive to me and the children.   Both children now live with me and he is OK with the arrangement as long as I don’t take him back to court. I know if I go back, he will fight about everything. I can’t put the kids or myself through that again.
I can make ends meet at this point but it would be great if I got the tax break by deducting both kids. Right now we each get one child dependency exemption. We both regularly get extensions so I still have time to figure this out. I think he would let me take both kids if I promise not to go back to court. What are my options?

P.C. (Winthrop)

A. A modification of your divorce agreement is not enforceable unless formally modified in court. But, the IRS does not know, nor do they care who takes the dependency exemption for your children as long as you don’t both make the claim. Go on the IRS website and print out two copies of form 8332. Tell your ex since the children are living with you and he is not paying child support, the least he can do is let you take both dependency exemptions. Fill out the forms, one for each child, and have your ex sign them.
You should complete the form for both children so he does not play games and claim the child you are entitled to claim in the divorce agreement. Then file your return ASAP so he does not have a chance to unilaterally change his mind by filing his return and taking the deduction he has given to you.
If you find the tax break does not add enough to your budget and you need child support, once both children are over age 14, the judge is not likely to order them to return to the equal time arrangement if they resist and at that point, your ex would be ordered to pay you child support.
If you truly want to stay out of court, you can ask him to sign the forms each year at tax time and properly take the deductions. If he gives you trouble, just remind him how much more costly child support would be.