It is often difficult to know how to navigate many of the issues that arise when two parents choose to raise a child separately. Whether this occurs in a divorce or between two individuals who are not married to each other, the process can prove difficult no matter how you approach it.
No matter how you reach the middle ground, do not underestimate the value of detailing out your agreements in writing. Even if you are not developing a custody plan as part of a divorce, the guidance of an attorney can prove invaluable as you work through the many matters that arise when you raise a child in two separate households.
One issue that you should be sure to address is which parent will claim the child as a dependent on their tax returns for 2018 and beyond. The law offers a number of tax advantages to parents who claim their children on their tax returns, but does not allow parents who live separately to both claim the same child as a dependent in the same year.
Child custody and tax benefits
Many parents do not understand the nature of tax benefits for claiming a child as a beneficiary. Some parents may erroneously believe that they can share benefits within a year, or mix and match which benefits each parent can claim on a tax return.
These benefits are only available to one parent at a time. Depending on a number of personal and financial factors, you may qualify to:
- claim an exemption for the child
- claim a child tax credit
- file your return as the head of your household
- claim exemptions for some childcare-related expenses
These are not all of the benefits that parents may claim on their tax returns. It is wise to consult with an attorney for yourself and see what benefits you and your child's other parent may have available.
Build the best life you can for the child you love
Even in the face of conflicts with your child's other parent, you can probably not agree that you want your child to have the best life either or both of you can provide. As you work toward figuring out the details of these issues, you may find it helpful to agree to alternate years of claiming the child as a dependent.
If you both claim the child in the same year, the IRS is likely to deny the claims of one parent entirely. Be sure to get all the legal help you need to provide the best life you can for the child that you both love very much.