Divorce and Taxes! Claiming Dependency Exemptions for Newly Divorced Parents

Tax season is in full swing! If you were recently divorced, there is a good chance this will be your first time filing individual income tax returns separate from your ex-spouse. Filing taxes is already pretty daunting for most, like me. But if you and your ex-spouse share minor children, there is also the added hassle of determining who is allowed to and supposed to claim the child(ren) on taxes this year.

As part of finalizing your divorce, the Court allocated the child dependency exemptions for income tax purposes between you and your ex-spouse. But how those exemptions were allocated varies depending on, among other things, each party’s proportionate share of the combined adjusted gross income. Typically, the Court will look at each party’s adjusted gross income and then allocate to each parent the exemptions(s) proportionate to their share of the combined adjusted gross income. The Court utilizes the Arizona Child Support Guidelines to determine each party’s adjusted gross income and the combined adjusted gross income. Follow the link below to the 2018 Arizona Child Support Guidelines for more information. As an example, let’s say the parties have one child, the Father earns $60,000.00 per year and the Mother earns $40,000.00 per year. The parties’ combined income is $100,000.00, with Father’s share of the combined income being 3/5 and the Mother’s share being 2/5. The dependency exemption would then be allocated using this fraction, unless the parties agreed otherwise, following a pattern that can be repeated in no more than 5 years. The Court could order that Father is eligible to claim the child in the first three out of every five years and Mother is eligible to claim the child in the final two out of every five years, or any other combination that provides Father the exemption three out of every five years.

So how do you determine if this tax season is your turn to claim the child(ren)? The first place to look is your Decree or most recent Child Support Order. There are other considerations to be aware of as well. Often times the Court will include in the Child Support Order a provision prohibiting a parent from claiming any exemptions if they were still behind on any court-ordered child support and arrears payments by December 31st of the year for which the exemption is sought. Yet other times the Court may order that the refund be intercepted and applied towards past-due child support. Unpaid medical reimbursements can also affect a party’s eligibility to claim dependency exemptions. It is important to carefully review your Child Support Order well in advance of April 15th. If you are unsure how to interpret your Child Support Order, call us at 480-656-8333 to schedule a free consultation.


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Written By:

Randi Partain, Senior Family Law Paralegal, Dodge & Vega PLC

Dodge & Vega PLC

Ben Dodge, Esq., Attorney, Entrepreneur, Endurance/Ultra Cyclist








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