A common question at the time of divorce in Texas is “which parent gets to claim the tax exemption for the child.” The answer is governed by Federal law. This means that a Texas court cannot make any rulings or determinations as to which parent receives the tax exemption for the child.

Federal law states that the parent that receives child support is the parent that is entitled to receive the child tax credit. The only way to deviate from this Federal law is by a written agreement between parents contained in the divorce decree.

When parents are operating under a 50/50 possession schedule, the parents will generally have off-setting child support. Off-setting child support occurs when each parent has the child one-half of the time. Having possession of the child one-half of the time theoretically entitles each parent to child support. Off-setting child support calculates each parent’s child support obligation and the parent with the higher child support obligation pays the other parent the difference. For example: If the parents are operating under a 50/50 possession schedule; one parent’s child support obligation would be $1,200.00 and the other parent’s child support obligation would be $900.00, the parent with the $1,200.00 child support obligation would pay the other parent the difference in the two child support obligations, which is $300.00.

It is important when parents are performing a 50/50 possession schedule that there are agreements contained in the divorce decree dealing with which parent is entitled to receive the tax exemption for the child. Many parents alternate tax years that each parent is entitled to claim the child as a tax exemption.

If you do not contain a specific agreement in your divorce decree regarding which parent will receive the child tax exemption, the parent receiving child support, regardless of the possession schedules of the parents, will receive the child tax exemption.