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Tax breaks aren't out of your reach after a divorce, part II

Earlier in the week, we discussed the different tax benefits that are available to noncustodial parents if they have met the qualifications for the noncustodial parent rule. This federal rule is an exception to the rule that only custodial parents will be able to collect tax deductions on their children. Although Georgia parents know that child custody battles are not fought for tax benefits, who will be able to claim tax deductions is often an important part of divorce settlements.

In order for a noncustodial parent in Marietta to be able to use his or her children for the tax deductions listed in part I, he or she must meet four requirements. If the parent fails to do so, however, the custodial parent, or the parent who has primary physical custody of the child, will be the only parent able to claim a dependent exemption deduction.

A noncustodial parent must first show that one or both parents are financially supporting the child. More than half of the money that the child needs for food, clothes, school and other living essentials must be provided by his or her parents. If other family members, charities or the government are covering a considerable amount of a child's expenses, the noncustodial parent may not be able to claim an exemption.

Parents must also show that they are separated or divorced from each other. Not only does there need to be some sort of dissolution of marriage, but the divorce or separation must be done under a written agreement. There are some situations, however, in which a couple that has lived apart during the last six months of the year may also be able to apply for the noncustodial parent rule.

Third, one or both parents must have had custody of the child for more than half of the year.

The final requirement, the one that may be the most difficult to get, is that the custodial parent must give his or her permission for the noncustodial parent to claim the child as a dependent on his or her taxes. While it may be relatively easy for some Georgia parents to prove the first three requirements, it is often the fourth that will require the assistance of a lawyer. If a noncustodial parent is represented by a strong family law attorney during the divorce proceedings, he or she may be able to incorporate the written declaration into the overall settlement.

Source: Smart Money, "Child-Related Tax Breaks After Divorce," Bill Bischoff, March 28, 2012

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Marietta, GA 30060

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