There are a lot of details involved in a divorce with children. One of the details is who will be able to claim the child or children as dependents on their taxes? A typical compromise for the dependency exemption is to alternate claiming the child each year. If there are two children, one parent will claim the same child every year. Once one of the children gets too old to be a dependent, then the parents will alternate years with the younger child until that child can no longer be a dependent.
There are many complicated nuances to tax law. One particular aspect of tax law that parents should be mindful of is the difference between claiming head of household and the dependency exemption. The parent who claims head of household on their taxes will claim head of household every single year. Unlike the dependency exemption, this tax benefit cannot be alternated. The person who claims head of household on their taxes is the custodial parent, or the parent who has the child or children for more than 50% of the time. If you have joint physical custody of your children, then whoever shall claim head of household will be designated in your divorce decree.
If you choose to alternate the dependency exemption, you must file out the requisite 8332 form to sever the dependency exemption from the Head of Household exemption.
While the custodian parent may balk at the idea of the other parent receiving dependency exemption, the parent should be mindful that they will always get the benefit of filing as head of household.