Claiming a Child as a Tax Dependent After a Maryland Divorce

After Your Maryland Divorce or Custody Matter, Who Gets to Claim the Kids on the Taxes, and How?

Claiming a child as a dependent on your tax returns can sometimes make a significant difference in the amount of the tax refund that you receive from the IRS or the state of Maryland. If there is no agreement or custody order in place indicating which parent may claim a child as a dependent, then only the “custodial parent” is entitled to the dependency exemption, but the child must be considered a “qualifying child.”

According to the Internal Revenue Code, a “custodial parent” is the parent with whom the child resides for the greater number of nights during the calendar year. However, if both parents have an equal number of nights of custody during the year then the exemption is given to the parent with the highest adjusted gross income.

In order to claim your child, the child must meet the four-part definition of a “qualifying child:”

  1. The child is the child of a taxpayer;
  2. The child has the same principal residence as the taxpayer for more than 6-months of the tax year;
  3. The child is under 19 years old; and
  4. The child did not provide over ½ of his or her own support during the tax year.

However, for a noncustodial parent to be able to claim the dependency exemption, the custodial parent must sign a written declaration (Form 8332) stating that they will not claim the child as a dependent for the taxable year. The noncustodial parent must attach the declaration to his or her tax return. The parties may agree to fill out Form 8332 each year, or they may be ordered to do so by the court, and may complete the form themselves or with the assistance of an attorney.

The IRS has designated Form 8332 to be used for releasing the dependency exemption. The exemption may be released for a single year, for a number of specified years (for example, alternate years), or for all future years, as specified in the declaration.

Rockville, Maryland divorce attorney Dana Whitten represents clients throughout Maryland. Get more answers here to your frequently asked questions about Maryland child custody. Contact the Law Offices of Dana K. Whitten for a consultation about your specific concerns.