Special rules apply to children of divorced or separated parents. Taxpayers who are the custodial parents can treat the child as a qualifying person even if they cannot claim the child’s exemption.
Taxpayers who are not the custodial parents cannot treat the child as a qualifying person even if they can claim the child’s exemption. The custodial parent is the parent who has physical custody of the child for the longest period of time during the year.


Physical custody (who the child lives with), not legal custody, determines whether or not a taxpayer is eligible to claim the childcare credit. It is not uncommon for physical custody to differ from legal custody.
This exception applies only if all the following are true:

  • One or both parents had custody of the child for more than half the year
  • One or both parents provided more than half of the child’s support for the year, and
  • The custodial parent signed Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents, or similar statement, agreeing not to claim the child’s exemption for the year
Children of Divorced or Separated Parents!

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