Do you and your ex-spouse share
custody of minor children? The type of custodial arrangement you have dictates your dependency exemptions.
Let me give you an example: When parties share custody of their children,
it can make sense to allocate exemptions equally so that each parent claims
one child on their separate return. If only one minor child is involved,
the parties can agree to alternate their exemption claim from year-to-year.
Your Divorce Judgment can spell out these important details so that you
and your spouse have some peace on mind on the subject.
In a contested (i.e., litigated), case the court typically allocates exemptions
to the "primary" custodial parent. This is generally the parent
who has care and custody of the children more than 50% percent of the
time. The court is not as flexible in allocating exemptions as you and
your spouse can be in negotiating agreement of a fair resolution.
It is never a good idea to simply claim a minor child as a dependency exemption
on a tax return without securing agreement in advance of filing from your
ex-spouse. An audit is almost guaranteed if both you and your ex-spouse
file separate returns claiming the same child as an exemption.
If your Divorce Judgment does not address this point, consider modifying
your judgment to allocate exemptions appropriately, or to at least clarify
which parent should claim the child(ren).
Keep in mind that allocating dependency exemptions can cause a large "swing"
in support figures - so it is well worth your time to consult an experienced
attorney for advice.