When am I entitled to an income tax exemption for my child?

Generally, you are allowed one exemption for each person you can claim as a dependent.  The general rule for a child of divorced or separated parents is that the parent who has custody of the child for the greater part of the tax year (i.e. the custodial parent) is treated as the parent who provides more than half of the child’s support and is thus entitled to the exemption for the child.  The non-custodial parent, however, will be treated as providing more of the child’s support under two circumstances.  First, if the custodial parent signs a written declaration that he or she will not claim the exemption for the child, and the non-custodial parent attaches this declaration to his or her return, then the non-custodial parent can claim the exemption for the child.  Second, if the custodial parent signs a decree or agreement that states he or she will not claim the exemption for the child, then the non-custodial parent can claim the child without regard to any condition, such as payment of support.