Question

I'm paying child support for my dependent children, but they don't live with me. Can I claim them as dependents?

Answer

There is not a child support tax deduction available. Instead, the amount of child support you provide usually doesn’t matter. To qualify as a dependent, the child must not provide more than half of his or her own support for the year.

The child must live with you more than half of the year. So, the child of divorced or separated parents is usually the qualifying child of the parent the child lived with the longest. This is the custodial parent according to the tax law.

However, the child can be the qualifying child of the noncustodial parent if all of these are true:

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

In the above situation, the noncustodial parent can take the dependency exemption if one of these is true:

  • The custodial parent gives up the exemption by signing a Form 8332: Release / Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. The noncustodial parent must attach the Form 8332 to the return.
  • The noncustodial parent attaches an agreement that took effect from 1985-2008. The agreement must say:
    • That the noncustodial parent can claim the child without regard to any condition, like payment of support
    • Which years the noncustodial parent can claim the child
    • That the custodial parent won’t claim the child for those years

Related Topics

Related Resources

I have a question about health care taxes and claiming my Medicare premium deduction. I pay Medicare premiums and supple

If you have Medicare, does your premium qualify for a deduction? Learn more from the tax experts at H&R Block.

I’m a full-time graduate student. What grad student tax deductions for out of pocket education tuition and fees am I eli

Learn more tax deductions available to grad students with advice from the tax experts at H&R Block.

How do I qualify for real estate tax deductions? Can I deduct prepaid mortgage interest?

Learn about the tax implications of prepaid mortgage interest and real estate taxes to determine if you can deduct them or not from the tax experts at

Is car insurance tax deductible? If so, can you deduct car insurance premiums paid on a monthly basis?

Is car insurance tax deductible? Discover if you can deduct your car insurance premiums. Learn more from the tax experts at H&R Block.