Your Life

Your Life

Major life milestones often have a major tax impact. Changes in your marital status, having a baby or adopting a child can have significant impact on your taxes. This is the place to ask questions about dependents, real estate, and other various scenarios that play a significant role in what taxes you pay.

Posts: 1
Registered: ‎01-09-2017
Accepted Solution

Divorce and the kids

I have a question regarding my recent divorce and how to claim the children. For the 2016 tax year per court order I am able to claim 2 out of the 3 kids for tax purposes. My only question is that our divorce was finalized on Dec 19 and we have kept up the financial responsibilites just like we did when we were married. Do I still only claim the two kids even though I still supported them as I did while we were married?

Trusted Council Member
Posts: 6,191
Registered: ‎02-23-2016

Re: Divorce and the kids

Hi JE77,


Welcome to the community.


So with a divorce situation there are actually several things we have to look at because a court order does not override the tax law under any circumstances.


Are you the parent who is the children's legal guardian?  If so then yes, you can claim the kids provided that all of the basic qualifying child requirements are met.  Did you support all 3 of your kids?  If you're their legal guardian or if no legal guardian has been appointed and you just share repsonsibilities then you may be able to claim them all.  Again we need to look at the qualifying child requirements:


  • The child must live with you.
  • The child must be related to you.
  • The child must not provide more than 50% of their own support.
  • The child must be under age 19 or under age 24 if in college full time.
  • The child must not have filed a joint return with another taxpayer unless an exception applies.

If both you and your ex-spouse qualify under these basic qualifications then the parent with whom the child lived for more nights during the year is entitled to claim the child unless one of the rules below apply.


If you're not the children's legal guardian and one has been appointed, then while you may have a court order this does not overrule tax law.  If this is the case then your ex-spouse (or their guardian) must provide you a copy of Form 8332 signed by him or her which relases the kids' exemptions to you along with the child tax credit, and education credits.  You must attach Form 8332 to your tax return.  There is one exception to these rules, and that is that if the court order was put into place between 1996 and 2009 then you can attach a copy of certain pages of the court order in lieu of Form 8332.


So as you can see this is somewhat complex.  I normally recommend meeting with a tax professional when you have a divorce situation that involves dependents as they will be able to make sure that everything is completed properly for you so that it doesn't come back to haunt you later.


In short, I do believe you will be able to claim at least two of the kids but there is a lot that has to be looked at and I do hope that I've been of help.



Senior Tax Advisor (Tampa, FL)