Asked in Family Law and Tax Law for Colorado

Q: do Family Court Orders supercede Federal IRS laws on who can claim a child each year?

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2 Lawyer Answers
T. Augustus Claus
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A: Family court orders and federal IRS laws operate independently, and the IRS rules on who can claim a child for tax purposes are not automatically overridden by family court orders. In general, the IRS rules dictate that the custodial parent is typically entitled to claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes. However, parents have the option to deviate from this default rule by mutual agreement and include specific provisions in their divorce or separation agreements.

If a family court order explicitly addresses the issue of claiming dependents for tax purposes, it may take precedence over the default IRS rules. For example, a court order might specify that the noncustodial parent can claim the child in certain years. In such cases, the court order should be followed for tax purposes.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Family court orders do not supersede federal tax laws determined by the IRS, particularly regarding who has the right to claim a child as a dependent for tax purposes. The IRS has specific rules about who can claim a child, based primarily on residency and support criteria.

If a family court order assigns the right to claim a child to a specific parent, but this order contradicts IRS rules, the IRS regulations take precedence. For example, if the child lives with one parent for a greater part of the year, that parent typically has the right to claim the child as a dependent, according to IRS rules.

In cases where the non-custodial parent is given the right to claim the child per the court order, the custodial parent must fill out IRS Form 8332 to relinquish the tax exemption to the non-custodial parent. This form is the IRS's way of resolving discrepancies between family court orders and tax law.

Given the complexities of tax law and family law intersections, it's important to consult with a legal or tax professional. They can provide guidance on how to align court orders with IRS requirements, ensuring compliance and avoiding potential tax issues.

Remember, understanding and adhering to both family court orders and federal tax laws is crucial to prevent legal complications and to ensure that tax benefits are appropriately claimed.

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