When a couple has divorced and tax time rolls around, the question may arise as to who will be able to claim the child as a dependent on their tax return?  This question needs to be answered before the divorced parents file their returns to avoid running into problems with the IRS. 

For tax purposes, a dependent is either a qualifying child or other relative.

Typically, the custodial parent, the parent who has the child the greater part of the year, as a result  of the divorce agreement, can claim the child as a dependent and thus receive the beneficial tax credit. 

When parents have joint physical custody of their child, problems may arise as to who will get to claim the child as a dependent.  To solve this problem, parents can agree in advance on who will take the exemption and then have their ex-spouse sign a release of exemption.  This exemption must be attached to the parent’s tax return for every year the parent will be claiming the tax credit.

Medical expenses can be deducted from your taxes for your child if the expenses are more than a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income.  The parent who is paying the medical expenses is the one who will be allowed to deduct these expenses by the IRS.

The rules regarding tax credits and exemptions are quite complex and confusing.  Although filing your tax deductions properly can save you money, filing them wrong can cost you much more in fines, penalties and stress.  To make sure you file your taxes properly, talk with an experienced tax attorney or go to the IRS website and read Publications 503 and 504, which deal with child and dependent care expenses, and divorced and separated individuals.