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Child support and tax obligations

After a divorce, one Florida parent may end up paying child support to the other, and for the parent receiving the support, the income is not considered taxable income. In addition, the payer is not entitled to a tax deduction for those payments.

People paying child support who are not custodial parents are usually not entitled to claim the child as a dependent on taxes. This exemption is based on which parent the child lives with and not on which parent provides the bulk of financial support. Some parents come to an agreement that allows the noncustodial parent to claim the child, but it requires an agreement signed by the custodial parent. Both parents must also sign an IRS form that must be attached to the tax return of the noncustodial parent who is claiming the exemption.

The exemption cannot be split between two parents who have joint custody, so they often make an arrangement to alternate years in which the child is claimed. This is best handled as part of the legal agreement that deals with custody and support.

A parent who is facing divorce may want to discuss these and related matters with an attorney. If the parent is concerned about a custody conflict with the other parent, an attorney may be able to help. In some cases, even parents who are initially in conflict are able to work out an agreement rather than going to court. This may be more beneficial for the child in the long run both because the parents may be better equipped than a judge to identify a child's best interests and because the negotiation may result in a better co-parenting relationship.

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