How Does Custody Affect Who Can Claim Child On Taxes?


My ex-wife and I have been separated for five years and have shared custody of our child. I have always allowed her to claim our daughter on her taxes because it would benefit her more.

Last year, I switched health insurance in order to cover myself and my child. Before singing up, I told my wife that I would need to put our daughter on my 2014 taxes, which she agreed to since I had her more than 50 percent of the time this past year.

She has now filed taxes before me and claimed our child. I have a witness to her agreeing to let me claim our daughter. Will this verbal contract hold up if I were to sue her for the difference of what I would have owed in taxes had she not claimed our daughter?


Tennessee divorce lawyer Kimberly Gray
Tennessee divorce lawyer Kimberly Gray

I am not licensed to practice law in your state. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of your state and can only provide you with general divorce tips.

In Tennessee, where I practice law, you would need a written contract before it is enforceable. I am not a tax attorney and cannot advise you regarding tax law, but you should see a tax attorney about the right to claim your daughter due to the fact that you had her the majority of the time.

To protect your rights in the future, you need to go ahead and file for either a divorce or a legal separation so that you can have a valid contract setting forth the details of your custody arrangement as well as the specifics of who will claim your daughter and who will cover her on health insurance.

In Tennessee, it is standard that the person who has the child the most will be permitted to claim the child on their taxes and this is written into the plan.

I would encourage you to hire an attorney so you can protect your rights.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Tennessee divorce lawyer Kimberly Gray, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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Shawn Garrison is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell & Cordell UK. He has written countless pieces dealing with the unique child custody and divorce issues that men and fathers face. Through his work on,, and, Mr. Garrison has become an authority on the complexities of the legal experience and was a content creator for the YouTube series “Dad’s Divorce Live” and additional videos on both the Dad’s Divorce and Cordell & Cordell YouTube channels. Mr. Garrison has managed the sites of these customers, and fostered the creation of several of their features, including the Cordell & Cordell attorney and office pages, the Dad’s Divorce Newsletter, and the Cordell & Cordell newsletter.

One comment on “How Does Custody Affect Who Can Claim Child On Taxes?

    I agree – having the details about who will claim the kids on taxes is vital. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get it spelled out regarding my older adult children who still live at home and a small fight ensued with my ex-wife.
    My adult kids (24 and 22) still reside with my wife, but for the majority of the tax year (9 months), I paid all the bills on the house plus continued to provide the living expenses as my ex still wasn’t working and didn’t begin to work until the last 3 months of the year. So technically speaking, although my kids weren’t living with me in my apartment, they still lived under the house who’s mortgage was under my name and that I continued to pay for (plus living expenses). And yet, my ex-wife wanted to argue ferociously that she should get to claim them.

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