If you are reading this, you have not been lured in by the sexy title. You have stopped by because you are most likely divorced, with children, and the term “dependent exemption” makes your heart beat wildly for one of these three reasons:
You are glad this is the year you can claim your children as tax exemptions.
You are gnashing your teeth because this year your ex gets them and you are wondering what creative accounting you might substitute for those precious exemptions, so you don’t owe anything extra to the government.
You realize the dependent exemption clause in your judgment is ambivalent and you need to make it un-ambivalent ASAP.
In The Beginning
When Prince and I divorced, we struck this deal: he would pay me Family Support (Spousal and Child Support combined) so that I wouldn’t have to pay taxes on alimony and could maximize my income. In return, he would claim exemptions on both chidren during the years he paid family support.
Then, when spousal support ceased, I would be able to claim the exemption for one or both children, although how I would do this without a fight was anyone’s guess.
Perhaps because I spent years trying to put out Prince’s flames and was too exhausted to deal with anything that wasn’t an emergency, or perhaps because I’m not great with details, or perhaps because Prince tried to get me to sign the requisite IRS forms transferring the exemptions to him ad infitum, I forgot that I was actually entitled to claim the exemptions.
In The Now
When I visited a new attorney last week, she told me that not only should I have been getting the exemptions every other year since Family Support ceased, but that I would almost certainly be awarded an exemption for one child if I went to court.
She drafted a standard stipulation requesting the transfer of the exemption for Franny to me until Franny turns eighteen. She told me to include a letter with the stipulation, advising Prince that it no longer made sense for me to give him the exemptions and asking him to sign the stipulation to avoid going to court.
Now. Any reasonable person would look at the big picture and say, I claim tax exemptions for both kids, a house, and for being married. She has no exemptions. I’m also hiding money. So why give her more ammunition to modify support when I could just give her the exemption and maybe she’ll go away?
But Prince is not a reasonable person, so he doesn’t think this way. That, and paying as little money to the government as possible is practically a religion in his family.
So I would not be at all surprised if I have to go to court to wrest the exemption from his Scrooge-y grasp.
On the other hand, Prince’s newfound niceness has given me just a smidgen of hope. Ever since Atticus and I split up and I moved into an apartment, Prince has been all please this, and thank you that.
And because disbursements from his family trust have to have been turned back on since the custody battle, and because he has well over a million dollars in equity in two houses, and because he most certainly has other assets of which I’m not aware, Prince has a lot of financial exposure should I try to modify child support.
Which I will consider doing once I request his most recent tax returns and an Income and Expense Declaration and see if the numbers work in my favor.
In the meantime, I’ll just send him the stipulation with my very diplomatic letter and hope that he gives me the exemption without a fight.