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50/50 Child Custody and Taxes in Mesa

The biggest benefit of 50/50 split custody is that the children get to have both parents in their lives as much as possible, which is now understood as the best possible arraignment for kids. In fact, we see more and more that it’s not the divorce that really hurts kids, it’s the loss of a parent. The trend toward equal parenting time is here to stay.

However, many parents have questions about the relationship between 50/50 child custody and taxes in Mesa. Who gets the deduction and child-related credits if both parents have the kids equally? The answers aren’t simple, and for this reason, it is best to consult with an experienced child custody attorney to improve your understanding of how the outcome of a family law case can impact your financial future.

What Does it Mean to Have Legal Custody of a Child?

In Arizona, the legislature has done away with the term “joint legal custody” and instead uses the term joint legal decision making. A parent with legal custody makes major decisions on behalf of their child. For instance, choosing the child’s school, ongoing medical care, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities all fall under a parent’s legal decision making rights.

Defining Joint Legal and Physical Custody

Joint decision making rights give both parents the responsibility to agree on major decisions like religious ceremonies, where the kiddo goes to school, who their doctor will be, who their counselor will be, whether or not they need counseling. Physical custody, on the other hand, is parenting time and determines where the child will live for a majority of the time.

It’s not unusual for parents to have equal parenting time in Mesa, either on a week on/week off, or split weeks and alternating weekends. There are many ways that parents can have equal parenting time or joint physical custody.

In the Case of 50/50 Shared Custody, Do Both Parents File for Taxes in Mesa?

Who gets the tax deductions or credits associated with the children in a given year is something that parents either negotiate or outline in their divorce decree, custody arrangement, or child support agreement. The default rule is that tax deductions are divided in proportion to the parents’ incomes, so if one parent has 75 percent of the income and the other has 25 percent, the former will usually be given three out of four years to take one child for tax exemptions.

Exceptions to Claiming a Child for Tax Deductions

It is important to note that if a parent is in arrears for child support, their tax refunds would be seized. A person who owes child support arrears cannot claim a child for tax deduction purposes.

If there is no court order delineating which parent has the rights to tax deductions in a certain year, then there are no clear rules, and the first to file usually claims the exemptions. To avoid audits and penalties, it is best to communicate and coordinate instead of both parents claiming the same child. Additionally, parents in Mesa who share 50/50 custody of two kids could claim one child each year, but they can’t both take half of a child-care tax deduction.