In the course of a divorce, just about any issue that you can conceive of will be discussed, negotiated, fought over and settled upon. The big ticket items that most people think of right off the bat are the children- who gets to pick where they live, how much support will have to be paid and what holidays go to each parent.
Property is the other big area of a divorce that many people think of immediately when considering a divorce. How much of “my” stuff will be divided up and what can I do to protect as much of it as I can? These are some of the more big picture items that are relevant to divorces in Texas.
One issue that isn’t as widely discussed but can be just as contentious is claiming the child of your marriage on your taxes. If this isn’t something that you’ve thought about in the context of an anticipated divorce then there is no need to feel bad. “Smaller” issues like this are why the vast majority of divorcing persons hire attorneys. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would like to share with you our thoughts on this subject in today’s blog post.
What are the mechanics of claiming a child on your taxes post-divorce?
When we are filling out tax documents for a new employer on the first day of work one of the boxes that we are asked to complete asks us for the number of persons that we can claim as dependents. I think I can speak for most of us when I say that it is assumed that the higher the number we put into that box the less we will have to pay in taxes for that year. Our thoughts on the subject probably stop right there and we go on to thinking about literally anything else because taxes are somehow both boring and complicated.
However, the child dependency exemption is an important benefit that parents are able to take advantage of and should be considered in great detail for any parents who are going through a divorce. This exemption has been worth $4,060 in 2016 and 2017 which is a pretty significant number all things considered.
If this represented an amount of money in a bank account then you would probably take more notice of it- which is understandable. The key for us to think about is that we want to make sure the issue of being able to take advantage of this exemption is dealt with in your divorce decree so that there are no questions after the divorce is finalized.
In case you don’t know a child can only be claimed as a dependent on one tax return in a year. If you, as a married person, filed jointly with your spouse then you both were able to take advantage of the exemption during the course of your marriage. However, once your divorce is completed only you or your ex spouse separately will be able to do so meaning that the tax benefit falls to only one of you each year. In most situations the parent with whom the child resides with (custodial parent) is able to claim the child on his or her taxes due to the child having lived with him or her more often. However, noncustodial parents are also able to claim the child as a dependent on their taxes if the parties agree to it in writing.
How can you structure an agreement in regard to the dependent exemption?
Everything is negotiable in a divorce. This is a statement that I will make to clients early and often during my representation of them. This includes the dependent tax exemption that we are discussing today. There are many ways to structure an agreement on how the exemption will be allocated between you and your soon to be ex spouse.
You are able to negotiate to be able to claim your child on your taxes every year, in exchange for allocating another piece of property or asset to your spouse. You are able to alternate the years on which you are able to claim your child with you taking “odd” years and your spouse having “even” years reserved for him or her. You are even able to split up the children with you being able to claim your son and your daughter being claimed by your spouse.
The key to all of this is making sure that the language is clear and concise in your Final Decree of Divorce. The exemption and how it is being divided up (if at all) must be made clear in the final orders. Also, instructions on how taxes are to be filed with obligations to file in the manner agreed to are imperative to add to your decree.
The reason for this is that you want to be able to have an enforceable order on hand so that if your spouse fails to abide by what you all agreed to then you may attempt to enforce the order by filing a lawsuit. Since tax law is covered by federal statutes and family law in Texas is state law, there may be conflicts in how each affects you and your taxes each year. The bottom line is that with some advanced planning and attention to detail you and your ex spouse can assure one another that this subject is not one that will need to be debated and re-litigated after your divorce has become final.
Family Law Attorneys for Southeast Texas families: The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
From Waller County to Chambers County and all points in between, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC represents and stands up for southeast Texas families every single day. If you are going through a divorce or have questions about a potential case please do not hesitate to contact our office. A free of charge consultation is only a phone call away.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Who Gets to Claim the Children as a Tax Exemption on the Tax Return in Spring, Texas?
- Paternity Law Essentials for Texas Families
- 6 Tips - On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce
- How am I going to Pay for My Texas Divorce?
- Why do divorces cost so much in Texas?
- How Much Will My Texas Divorce Cost?
- 8 Tips for Reducing the Cost of a Divorce in Texas
- Low cost and affordable divorces, attorneys, websites and divorce Costs in Texas
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding Divorce, it's important to speak with one of ourHouston, TX Child Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.