Child support isn't deductible by the payer, and it's not income to the recipient. Your decree should include a definitive ending period for child support not related to the age or any life changes of your children.

A special rule applies for determining who gets the exemption for a child in the case of a divorce or legal separation. If you're the custodial parent, you can claim the child as a dependent. However, the noncustodial parent can claim the Dependent Exemption (and the Child Tax Credit) for the child with the consent of the custodial parent. The custodial parent can "release" the child for this purpose using Form 8332.

The custodial parent may still qualify as Head of Household, and may be eligible for the Child Care Credit, Exclusion for Child Care Benefits and Earned Income Credit for that child. The noncustodial parent can't claim these benefits even though that parent can claim the exemption.

Custody should be spelled out clearly in the decree. If there's any confusion, the IRS may have cause to disaffirm the claiming rights of either parent.


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