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What is the support test for dependents of separated or divorced parents?

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Question
What is the support test for dependents of separated or divorced parents?

Answer

A child will be treated as the qualifying child or qualifying relative of his or her noncustodial parent (defined on page 19 of Form 1040 instructions(page 20 for 2018)) if all of the following conditions apply:

  1. The parents are divorced, legally separated, separated under a written separation agreement, or lived apart at all times during the lst 6 months of the tax year (whether or not they are or were married).
  2. The child received over half of his or her support for the year from the parents (and the rules on Multiple Support Agreements on page 19 do not apply). Support of a child received from a perent's spouse is treated as received by the parent.
  3. The child is in custody of one or both of the parents for more than half of the year.
  4. Either of the following apply:
    • The custodial parent signs Form 8332 or asubstantially similar statement that he or she will not claim the child as a dependent for the year, and the noncustodial parent attaches a copy of the form or statement to his or her return. If the divorce decree or separation agreement went into effect after 1984 and before the tax year began, the noncustodial parent may be able to attach certain pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332. See page 19 of Form 1040 instructions.
    • A pre-1985 decree of divorce or separate maintenance or written separation agreement between the parents proides that the noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent, and the noncustodial parent provides at least $600 for support of the child during the year.

This discussion does not apply if the support of the child is determined under a multiple support agreement.

General Rule
The parent who has custody of the child for the greater part of the year (the custodial parent) is generally treated as the parent who provides more than half of the child's support. It does not matter whether the custodial parent actually provided more than half of the support. (There is an exception to this rule - see Support Test for Noncustodial Parent in the FAQ section)

Custody
Custody is usually determined by the terms of the most recent decree of divorce or separate maintenance, or a later custody decree. If there is no decree, use the written separation agreement. If neither a decree nor agreement establishes custody, then the parent who has the physical custody of the child for the greater part of the year is considered to have custody of the child. This also applies if the validity of a decree or agreement awarding custody is uncertain because of legal proceedings pending on the last day of the calendar year.

If the parents are divorced or separated during the year and had joint custody of the child before the separation, the parent who has custody for the greater part of the rest of the year is considered to have custody of the child for the tax year.

Note: See Exception for Noncustodial Parent in FAQ section.

Third-party Support
Support provided by a third party for a divorced or separated parent is not included as support provided by that parent.

Remarried Parent
If you remarry, the support provided by your new spouse is treated as provided by you.

Home Jointly Owned
If you and your former spouse have the right to use and live in the home, each of you is considered to provide half of your child's lodging. However, if the divorce decree gives only you the right to use and live in the home, you are considered to provide your child's entire lodging. It does not matter if the legal title to the home remains in the names of both parents.


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Views: 1851 Created on: Jun 15, 2013
Date updated: Dec 13, 2018

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