Illinois residents and others may be able to claim their children or others as dependents on a tax return. However, if a couple has been divorced or lives together despite not being married, it isn’t always clear who gets to do so. The IRS does have a set of rules that it uses to determine who gets the credit if there is a dispute. It is important to note that the IRS settles disputes after a return is filed.

Typically, the first person to submit a return with the claim gets the financial benefit of doing so. The next person who submits a return claiming that same dependent will have a return rejected. Generally speaking, a child’s parents will get to claim a son or daughter before anyone else does. If both parents claim a child as a dependent, the IRS will look at who had the child most often during the year.

If that still doesn’t resolve the matter, the parent with the highest adjusted gross income will get to claim a child as a dependent. This is because the government assumes that the parent with the most money is the one who provides most of the support. Custodial parents can allow noncustodial parents to claim a son or daughter as a dependent, and parents who are not married can choose for themselves how to claim a dependent.

Individuals who are going through a divorce may benefit from speaking with a family law professional. Doing so may make it easier for a person to learn more about his or her rights as they relate to child support, custody and other matters. An attorney may help a person structure a settlement that allows him or her to claim a child as a dependent on a tax return.