Can I claim my children as dependents on my taxes?

Divorce touches on every aspect of life, including taxes. As a Newnan divorce attorney, it is not uncommon for clients to ask my advice on divorce related tax concerns. One of the most common questions I receive concerns taxes and child support, specifically: “Can I claim my children as dependents on my taxes if I pay child support?” Generally speaking, IRS only allows custodial parents to claim the dependency exemption for his or her qualifying children. For income tax purposes, the IRS defines the custodial parent as the parent with whom the children lived for the greater part of the year. So, even if you are paying child support for the children’s benefit, you will likely be unable to claim your children as dependents on your taxes if you are a non-custodial parent.

Although only the custodial parent is entitled to claim the dependency exemption in most cases, a non-custodial parent may be able to claim the exemption if the special rule for children of divorce or separated parents applies. This rule only applies if:

  • The parents are divorced, legally separated, or lived apart at all times during the last six months of the year
  • One or both parents provided more than half of the child’s total support of the year
  • One or both parents have custody of the child for more than half of the year

If all of the conditions are met, and the custodial parent signs a release, the non-custodial parent may claim the dependency exemption.

If you are a non-custodial parent seeking to claim the dependency exemption for your children, or you are currently in the divorce process, it is important to discuss the options and the specifics of your case with your attorney and a certified tax preparer. Contact us at Dreyer Law for more information on tax exemptions and all of your divorce questions.

Drug Use

Drug use plays a roll in custody decisions and parental rights in the United States and Georgia is no exception. Judges understand how devastating drug addiction is, but they do not base their decision solely on the use of illegal drugs.

When drug use is alleged, both parents will generally be required to undergo drug testing, usually in the day of court. A positive result may result in an award of custody to the clean/sober parent or could possibly result in just a warning from the judge depending on the drug being used and the result of the levels in his or her system.

First and foremost, courts are concerned with the best interest of the children. Judges will never condone the use of illegal drugs. Although it is not common, a judge may determine that it is not a threat to the children’s safety and award custody to a parent who is actively using drugs or who has a history of drug use. The judge will look at the whole picture and make their decision based upon the needs of the children.

Please note, if you are actively using recreational drugs, you are running the risk of losing all custody rights to your children. Please contact Dreyer Law today so we can advise you on the best programs to kick your drug use. Dreyer Law offers free consultations for divorces, child custody suits, and adoptions.

Expectations of Divorce

The most important factor in determining the outcome in divorce situations, other than the facts and circumstances, is expectations. If you have realistic expectations, your entire divorce experience will be less traumatic. Unrealistic expectations can result in trauma for the entire family involved. In order to keep your expectations realistic, consider the following.

The judge will not punish your spouse for bad behavior except in rare instances.  You may expect the courts to treat the spouse who committed adultery or was abusive harshly, but that is not always the case. Georgia allows a spouse to seek a no-fault divorce, even if it involves child custody. Courts normally decide divorce related issues based on today and not yesterday, so don’t waste a lot of energy trying to get the judge to punish your spouse.

Your children should be your number one priority. Divorce can be hard and traumatizing to children. It is important to express to your children that both of their parents will always love them no matter what. This will help them realize the divorce is not their fault. A lot of divorcing parents find that hiring a professional therapist will help a child during the divorce period. Choosing a family counseling session that the entire family can help the children cope with current circumstances and provide the tools they need after the divorce is final.

You and your spouse loved each other and got along in the beginning. Many people going through the divorce process forget that they once cared deeply for the spouse they are divorcing. Don’t forget that you both shared the same dreams in the beginning of your relationship and marriage. You have both had to deal with hurt and pain.

Always keep your emotions under control and out of the divorce process. The results of all divorce cases are unpredictable. However, if you are bitter towards your spouse the divorce process with be draining- both emotionally and financially. Instead of allowing your feelings to take over the divorce, think of it as a business transaction. Each little emotion you allow to slip out will have a price tag.

Dreyer Law specializes in Family Law including divorce, child support, modifications of existing orders, adoption, parenting class, and contempt. Call our Family Law office today for a free legal consultation.

6 things to do before filing for divorce

Divorce is hard on everyone even if you and your spouse agree on every aspect of this divorce civilly. Emotions are going to flare up and there may be a few challenges along the way. Many couples are blindsided by all of the proper steps that need to be taken in order to have a simple divorce. There are a few things you can do before starting down the road to divorce to help empower yourself and put yourself in a favorable position.

  •  Always know your finances. During the divorce process, you need to have access and knowledge of debts, income, assets, and expenses prior to filing for divorce.
  •  Get your affairs in order. Make sure that your estate is updated and your will is signed before you pursue a divorce. Some states you are not allowed to complete these transactions until the divorce is final.
  •  Set aside some money. Most all families keep an emergency fund in case one spouse gets laid off. You should always set aside a similar account of money because your spouse may cut you off once you file for divorce. Another tip is to place all of your valuable possessions and important documents in a safety deposit box or have someone you trust keep them safe for you.
  •  Keep a journal or notebook. It is always in good practice to keep a journal handy when kids are involved in your divorce. The journal is used to document all of the activities your spouse missed, all of the times they were suppose to take the children but never showed up, etc. Without this history of involvement before filing, it’s going to be harder to get full custody.
  •  Avoid social media. Social media has become powerful evidence in divorce cases. When you post photos on social media that can incriminate you and then you delete them before you file for divorce, you are destroying evidence, which is illegal. Venting about your spouse on social media is also a no. These posts can also be used against you in court.
  •  See a therapist. When you are considering a divorce from your spouse, you should seek a safe and confidential place to express yourself. This is where a therapist comes in, this information you confide in them cannot be uses against you in court.

Contact Dreyer Law with all of your legal needs. Dreyer Law specializes in Family Law including divorce, child support, modifications of existing orders, adoptions, parenting class, and contempt. Call our Family Law office today for a free legal consultation.