Couples filing jointly usually claim their dependent children on their income tax forms. Divorced and separated couples have to decide who claims whom. Each dependent child can only be claimed by one parent. This parent is usually the “custodial parent”; or the parent with whom the child spends the most nights. IRS Form 8832 is the form that a custodial parent signs to release their claim on a dependent child, thereby leaving the noncustodial parent the right to claim that credit. A separate form must be filled out for each dependent child.
The reason for doing this often comes from a divorce settlement or decree of separate maintenance. This is often due to a prior agreement or at the discretion of a judge or other arbiter. IRS Form 8832 can also be used by the custodial parent to revoke the release of the claim, or take the credit back in other words. The form must be signed and delivered to the noncustodial parent before the tax year in which the custodial parent wishes to claim the dependent child as an exception. In other words, if the custodial parent who has already given up the claim wishes to use the claim in 2014, they must provide the other parent with a signed copy of IRS Form 8832 (or make a reasonable attempt to deliver it) this year.
Parents are able to submit pages of their divorce decree or separation agreement in lieu of IRS Form 8832 but only if they: were drafted after 1984 but before 2009, declared that the noncustodial parent can claim the child, declared that the other parent would not claim the child, and stipulated which year(s) the exemption could be claimed by the noncustodial parent. Otherwise, the parent must submit this form with their tax return. For any questions concerning how to fill out this and other tax forms, how to claim a dependent child on a tax return, or for general tax-related information, contact a tax professional.