Question
We’re the divorced or legally separated parents of one child. May each parent claim the child as a dependent for a different part of the tax year?
Answer

No, an individual may be a dependent of only one taxpayer for a tax year. You can claim a child as a dependent if he or she is your qualifying child. Generally, the child is the qualifying child of the custodial parent. Generally, the custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the longer period of time during the year.

However, the child will be treated as the qualifying child of the noncustodial parent if the special rule for children of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart) applies. See Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals for more information. This rule requires in part, that both of the following conditions are met:

If the custodial parent releases a claim to exemption for a child, the noncustodial parent may claim the child as a dependent and as a qualifying child for the child tax credit or credit for other dependents. However, generally, the noncustodial parent may not claim head of household filing status or the earned income credit, and the noncustodial parent may not claim the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the exclusion for dependent care benefits, or the health coverage tax credit.

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