February 2017: Dependency Exemptions for Divorced or Separated Parents

Michigan Family Law Journal : TAX TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS Feature

by Joseph W. Cunningham, JD, CPA


At this time of year, questions often arise as to which of two parents—recently divorced or presently separated—is entitled to the dependency exemption for a child of the marriage.

General Rule under IRC Section 152(e)

IRC Section 152(e) provides a special rule for the right to claim an exemption of a child of divorced or separated parents who, for the year in question:

  • Are divorced or separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance at year end; or,
  • Are separated under a written separation agreement at year end; or,
  • Have lived apart at all times during the last six months of the year.
  • And, on a combined basis, had custody of the child for more than half the year; and,
  • On a combined basis, provided more than half the child’s support for the year (support received from a new spouse of a remarried parent is considered provided by that parent).

If these conditions are satisfied, the custodial parent (defined as the parent having physical custody for more than half the year) is automatically entitled to the exemption for a child regardless of:

  • of what the decree or agreement provides
  • which parent furnished more than half of the child’s support.

Waiver Exception to General Rule

For any specified year, or years, or for all future years, the custodial parent may release his or her right to claim the exemption for a child to the noncustodial parent.

Continued in PDF file below… “Dependency Exemptions for Divorced or Separated Parents”
View / Download February 2017 Article – PDF File

Complete Michigan Family Law Journal available at: Michigan Bar website – Family Law Section (subscription required)