Tax Resources

Child Tax Credit for Divorced or Separated Parents

Below are the rules for claiming child tax credit for divorced or separated parents. The same tax rules apply for parents who are never married.

How is a child treated for divorced or separated parents?

A child is treated as being the qualifying child or qualifying relative of his or her noncustodial parent (parent whom the child lived with for the lesser part of the tax year) if all the followings apply:

  • parents are:
    • divorced
    • legally separated
    • separated under a written separation agreement or
    • lived apart at all times during the last 6 months of the year
  • the child received over half of his or her support from the parents or parent's spouse.
  • the child is in the custody of one or both the parents for more than half of the year.
  • Either:
    • the custodial parent signs Form 8332 or a substantial similar document stating that he or she will not claim the child as a dependent for that year. The noncustodial parent attaches the form or statement to his or her federal tax return.
    • A decree of divorce or separate maintenance or written separation agreement between the parents that applies to the year provide that the noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent.

If the rules for qualifying child above apply and the child would otherwise be the qualifying child of more than one person, then:

  • noncustodial parent can claim the child for purposes of:
    • the dependency exemption
    • the child tax credit, and
    • the additional child tax credit
  • Only custodial parents can claim:
    • head of household filing status,
    • the credit for child and dependent care expenses and
    • the earned income credit

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