Divorce and Taxes: Child Dependency Exemptions

divorce attorney Jill Duffy

By Jill A. Duffy

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Child dependency exemptions can equal some major cash over a few years.

In order to be qualified to claim a child dependency exemption the child must be your child (birth or adoption; care of other family members may qualify for an exemption as well), under age 19, lived with you for more than half the year and the child must not have provided more than half of their own support.

Essentially, this rule allows the primary custodian to claim a dependency exemption for a child.

If you are not the primary custodian for your child, but you and your former spouse have agreed to alternate tax years for claiming the exemption, your former spouse must declare that she will not claim the exemption for that year. This can be done by filling out the federal tax Form 8332. This form should be given to your tax specialist and kept for your records in case of audit.

Parents with equal custody of a child can make agreements regarding who will claim the child each year, and execute the Form 8332 when appropriate.

If agreements are not reached between the parents, the federal government considers the parent with the higher adjusted gross income to be the custodial parent and the one entitled to the exemption.

This information is general in nature and should not be construed as tax advice. You should work with your attorney or tax professional to determine the tax advantages that will work best for your situation.

Read all the articles in our Divorce and Taxes series:


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.  

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