Children of separated parents - who gets the exemption?
(Revised November 2012)
There are specific rules for claiming a child of parents who are separated for a period that includes the last six months of the year. For purposes of these rules the 'custodial parent' is the parent who the child lives with during the last six months of the year and the 'non-custodial parent' is the other parent. In almost all cases the custodial parent is entitled to the tax exemption for the child, unless the custodial parent signs release on Form 8332, Release of Exemption, to the non-custodial parent.
In July of 2008, the IRS issued new regulations concerning the tax exemption of children of divorced or separated parents. Except for a child who is considered 'emancipated,' the new rules favor the 'custodial parent.'
The new IRS Regulations made two major changes starting in 2009:
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