Can I claim my qualifying child if I am divorced or separated?

Created by Shubha Bisht, Modified on Wed, 24 Jan at 3:51 PM by Shubha Bisht

Per the IRS, a qualifying child is usually considered the child of the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent that the child lived with for the greater number of nights during the year. The other parent is considered the noncustodial parent.


Note: If you’re unsure if you would be considered a “parent” by the IRS, see the Guide to Claiming Dependents for what qualifies under the relationship test.


If the child lived with both parents an equal number of nights, the custodial parent is the one with the higher AGI. However, the child can be treated as the qualifying child of the noncustodial parent if all of the following are true: 

  • Parents: The parents are divorced or legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, are separated under a written separation agreement, or lived apart at all times during the last 6 months of the year (whether or not they were married).

  • Support: The child received over half of the child’s support for the year from the parents.

  • Custody: The child is in the custody of one or both parents for more than half of the year.

  • Written Declaration: The custodial parent signs a written declaration that they won’t claim the child as a dependent for the year and the noncustodial parent attaches the documentation to their return.


Additional Resources:


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