It’s common knowledge that asset division is part of any marital separation. However, some Illinois residents may not think of child-related tax exemptions as an asset to be divided in the case of divorce. Many divorced parents are unaware of how to handle which spouse claims a child or children on their yearly tax return, and this can lead to complications during the divorce process if it is not fully understood.

According to the Internal Revenue Code, the primary custodial parent is the one allowed to claim a child or children on their tax returns. However, in the modern era, this is not so easy to calculate. Modern parents have complicated schedules that attempt to allow for children to have time with both parents, which makes the question of custody more difficult to answer. Generally speaking, the parent with whom the child spends the most number of nights over the course of the year is thought of as the primary custodian.

However, it is possible for the noncustodial parent to claim a child or children on their taxes as well. If a mutual agreement is reached during divorce proceedings to allow the noncustodial parent to claim a child, that agreement will be honored come tax time. In fact, it is even possible for parents to claim children on alternating years to help keep things fair to both parents.

Divorce is a complicated process made more so by the inclusion of children in a given scenario. Illinois residents with children who are headed for a separation may benefit from discussing the question of tax benefits ahead of signing divorce papers. This can help to eliminate a possible stumbling block on the road to a happier, healthier future.

Source: The Huffington Post, Children of Divorce: Who Gets the Tax Exemption?, Stann Givens, March 13, 2014