If there is no court order in place allocating the dependent tax exemption between parents, then the custodial parent will likely get to claim the child on his or her taxes. More commonly, the courts alternate years in which the parents can claim their child. For example, Mother will claim the child in even-numbered years and Father will claim the child in odd-numbered years. If there are two children, then the courts often times allow each parent to claim one child every year.
If you are unsure whether you can claim your child on your 2014 taxes, then you need to first look to the relevant court order. If you are parent who pays child support and it is “your” year, then you can take the exemption only if you have paid at least 95% of your child support payments from 2014.
For example, if your child support obligation is $100/week, then you need to make sure you paid at least $4,940 in child support from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014, which was 95% of the total amount $5,200. If you did not pay at least 95%, then time is on your side. You have until January 31, 2015 to pay it.
If you are the custodial parent in this situation, then you should be running your numbers as well. If the other parent does not pay 95% of his/her 2014 child support obligation by January 31, 2015, then you get to take the exemption and claim your child.
You do not want to be penalized by the court or IRS for taking the other parent’s dependent exemption if it is not your year. You should confirm your calculations and decision with an attorney before taking action.