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Can I Take My Child If I Leave my Husband in North or South Carolina?

Can I Take My Child If I Leave My Husband in NC or SC?

If you are planning to leave your husband and need to know if you can take your child with you when you go, the short answer is no. In North and South Carolina, a parent cannot take their child or children from the family home with the intent of never returning without the knowledge and consent of the other parent. Leaving in such a way can be classed as parental kidnapping, since both parents should have equal rights to the child and your actions violate the father’s rights. 

Maybe you are considering just leaving on your own without taking the child or children with you. Again, this is not advisable. This would be considered abandonment of the child, even if that was not your intention, and could cause problems in future custody hearings. A judge could potentially look at your actions unfavorably and grant custody to the father because of your ill-advised decision to leave. 

Additionally, if you take the child or children and try to leave the state, a judge can order you back to establish custody or for you to file for divorce. States have legal jurisdiction, especially where children are concerned, for six months from the last time that you, or the child, resided there.

If you want to leave the marriage and keep your children with you, it is better to go through the proper channels and make sure everything is done correctly. 

Consult With an Attorney 

In North and South Carolina, the mother and father have equal rights and access to their children unless otherwise stipulated by a court order. So, if you want to leave the marriage but still keep your children, you are going to have to go to court. An attorney can help guide you through the process and help you figure out the best way to move forward in gaining custody of your children. 

Speak With the Father 

As long as you and your child are in a safe situation, meaning there is no abuse in the family home, you should discuss your desire for a divorce with your spouse. If you both can agree to the divorce and how to move forward, things will be easier in the long run. Perhaps you can agree that he will move out during the separation as long as joint custody is maintained, or vice versa. Either way, having this conversation, however difficult, usually makes the process simpler. 

 Young couple arguing in lawyers office in front of a lawyer getting divorced

File for Separation 

A couple must be separated and living apart for one year and one day before they can file for divorce. While there is no requirement to have a separation agreement or property settlement, or even legally file for a separation, it is highly advisable that you move forward with these options. In a separation agreement, you and your soon-to-be-ex can make a plan for how property will be divided, what, if any, child or spousal support will be paid, and most importantly, what type of child custody schedule will be kept. By taking this approach, you can avoid potential unpleasantries or legal issues that could arise if you leave without notice and take the children. 

Follow the Custody Agreement 

Assuming that there are no extenuating circumstances or issues that would be unsafe for the child, it is best that both parents amicably follow the agreed-upon custody arrangement. If you are hoping to ultimately gain sole custody, maintaining the visitation schedule and encouraging your child to have a relationship with their father could work in your favor in future hearings. Courts in North and South Carolina will always focus on the best interests of the child, which includes both parents being involved in the child’s life, where appropriate. So, judges appreciate a parent’s efforts to put their child first. 

Speak With a Lawyer Today 

Whether you are considering divorce, have already separated from your spouse, or just need help navigating child custody agreements, the legal team at Collins Family Law is here to help. We understand that going through a divorce is extremely difficult for everyone involved, and is all the more trying when children are involved. If things have taken a turn for the worst and you are faced with having to prove you are the best parent in court, we can help you with that as well. 

When it comes to divorce and child custody arrangements, you shouldn’t have to face the process alone.  Let our lawyers guide you through every step, to save you having to resort to leaving with your child and facing further issues. If you are considering divorce or separation, give our team a call today to get the advice you need.           

Unreimbursed Medical Expenses and Child Support in North Carolina

Unreimbursed Medical Expenses and Child Support in North Carolina

After filing for a divorce, parents want peace of mind knowing that their ex will pull their weight in helping take care of the children they share. Determining the financial responsibilities of the two parties involved can be the most complex part of divorce proceedings, especially when a family has incurred significant out-of-pocket medical expenses for their child’s medical care. You can avoid the heated debate and protect your child from the crossfire just by knowing the amount of uninsured medical expenses you are required by the state to pay and by knowing when to use a child support lawyer.

Are Unreimbursed Medical Expenses Part of Child Support?

Unreimbursed medical expenses include any medical care deductibles, copays, prescription medications, elective surgeries, and any other related expenses that aren’t covered by your insurance. These uninsured costs can sometimes cost more than basic health care under your insurance plan, which is when they are referred to as “extraordinary” medical costs. Deductibles and copays are the most common uninsured medical expenses, and they can compound quickly if your son or daughter has an illness that requires regular doctor appointments. A well-drafted child support order will include how much of a child’s unreimbursed medical expenses each parent must pay.

Child support, on the other hand, is all the costs associated with caring for a child’s basic needs — and this includes healthcare premiums. Uninsured medical expenses are not counted as child support and must be paid separately from other child support needs. This doesn’t release either parent from financial responsibility, though. North Carolina child support orders usually make it clear that these costs should be shared between parents, but it’s not uncommon for the written child support agreement to be unclear as to how child support medical bills are to be divided. 

When a child support agreement doesn’t fully address the situation, or when the noncustodial parent disputes the necessity of the appointment or treatment, the custodial parent might struggle to collect payment. In a situation like this, here’s what you should do.

Male hand with wallet and two $100 US dollar bills being pulled out of the wallet. A woman and baby blurred in the background sitting on the grass.

Steps for Pursuing Payment From the Noncustodial Parent

If you are the custodial parent who has incurred those uninsured charges, your first action will be to issue a written request to the noncustodial parent within 30 days of your child’s uncovered procedure or treatment, outlining all the expenses and what they were for. When you reach out to the other parent, do so in a way that respects the procedures outlined in your existing child support agreement. The noncustodial parent may pay you or the provider directly, unless a court order states otherwise. Never give or accept cash as a payment; make sure that all transactions are recorded through a check or money order. Make copies of all records, bills, and receipts in case you are asked to provide proof of these costs. 

If the other parent fails to make a payment by the deadline you’ve indicated after issuing the payment request, you have the right to pursue payment through court intervention. Their failure to pay your child’s uninsured medical costs will have the same penalties as the failure to pay regular child support. These penalties could include property seizure, license revocation, tax return interception, garnishment of wages, contempt of court charges, and so on.

North Carolina Guidelines for Uninsured Medical Costs

The guidelines for dividing uninsured medical costs vary by state. Some states require that the out-of-pocket costs be split, based on the average monthly income of each parent, while others demand that the noncustodial parent share the expense when the uninsured cost is more than a specified percentage of the regular child support payment. Some states even require the noncustodial parent to take all the remaining out-of-pocket costs after the custodial parent has paid up to a certain amount. If you aren’t an NC native, find out what your state’s law is here.

In North Carolina, the law states that the annual obligation of support per child is $250 for uninsured medical or dental expenses and that, “In any case, including those where a parent’s income falls within the shaded area of the child support schedule, the court may order that uninsured health care costs in excess of $250 per year (including reasonable and necessary costs related to medical care, dental care, orthodontia, asthma treatments, physical therapy, treatment of chronic health problems, and counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental disorders) incurred by a parent be paid by either parent or both parents in such proportion as the court deems appropriate.”

In essence, the first $250 in out-of-pocket costs are paid by the custodial parent while everything exceeding that amount is paid by the noncustodial parent or divided between two parents according to their monthly incomes (or in another manner according to the discretion of the court). 

Talk to an Attorney at Collins Family Law Group

In any case, it’s always a good idea to involve a family law attorney in matters of child support and medical expenses. An attorney can mediate on your behalf, explain financial obligations to a noncustodial parent, modify your original child support agreement to propose new terms for uninsured medical expenses, and petition the courts for unpaid costs if private communications with your ex-spouse are unsuccessful. 

At Collins Family Law Group, our supportive and experienced child support lawyers can offer reliable legal counsel to make your life easier during a difficult, financially strenuous time. Call us today to schedule a consultation or ask us more about NC and SC child support laws for the noncustodial parent.

Life After Divorce for Women

Life After Divorce for Women

“I want a divorce.”

For an unsuspecting wife, these four words are the most gut-wrenching to hear. 

Divorce is one of the most difficult things a person can experience. After sharing a life with your husband for so many years, separating your finances, your possessions, your family, and your heart can cause a painfully dark headspace. You’re left with constant reminders and emotions about what you did wrong and what you could have done better, and you question whether you’re ever going to heal from the hurt. 

It takes time to learn to live as a single woman again, and though the outlook may seem bleak at the moment, believe it or not, things do get better in time. Collins Family Law Group has helped facilitate countless divorces, and we’re here to share some of the steps we’ve seen women take after divorce to achieve successful healing and happy, independent post-divorce lives.

Allow Yourself to Grieve the Relationship

Your husband’s request for divorce may have come as a shock when you may not have realized anything was wrong in the first place. It may feel as though your entire world is crashing down around you and that you’ve lost your better half in an instant. 

As you navigate through divorce, it’s okay to feel shock, devastation, betrayal, depression, anger, or whatever other emotions arise. You are allowed to mourn a lost lifestyle, and giving yourself time to grieve will help you find peace much faster. Allow yourself to work through tough emotions and move through the five stages of grief so you can heal from your loss. 

According to the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle model, you will experience most of the following emotional states along the path to healing:

  • Denial: It’s normal to respond to grief by denying the loss. Denial is a defense mechanism that allows you to process your feelings more slowly and feel the pain a little less intensely. 
  • Anger: Eventually, repressed feelings will surface, and you may experience anger as a way of coping with the emotion without giving in to the pain. At this point, you’ll probably feel a great deal of bitterness and resentment toward your spouse.
  • Bargaining: When you enter the bargaining stage, you may start having thoughts such as, “What if we had gone on more dates? Would that have made him stay?” These unproductive thoughts only delay the pain and confusion that come with an unexpected divorce. Many people at this point try to make promises with a higher power in exchange for relief from their feelings.
  • Depression: Depression is actually a good sign in the healing process. It means you’re getting closer to acceptance and may be better able to cope and sit with your feelings. However, many people get stuck in this phase and find it hard to move forward, feeling like they’ve lost their purpose in life. If you get to this point, seek professional help.
  • Acceptance: A common misconception about the acceptance stage is that a person will feel peace, relief, or even joy upon reaching this stage. In reality, acceptance simply means that you’ve come to terms with your new circumstances and you know that your life will be different, while acknowledging that you’ll still have bad days.

Build Up a Support Group to Lean On

In an emotionally trying time, you should have time to be alone for grieving, but don’t spend all of your time in solitude. You need to surround yourself with close friends and family who will help you stay strong. Lean on people who can build you up, offer support, help you laugh and have fun, and not fixate on the divorce as much. These people can remind you of your worth and let you get your feelings off of your chest. They’ll also steer you away from making poor choices while in a vulnerable state.

Make a Plan for Financial Independence

Financial freedom is one of the keys to living a healthy post-divorce life. While you may not be financially dependent on your husband, you may be accustomed to having a joint income, which allows you to live a more comfortable lifestyle. If this is the case, you will either need to adjust your standard of living or take time to find a higher-paying job. Make sure you find a job you enjoy and throw yourself into your work. If this means investing more in your education, now is the time to do so while there is no significant other to hold you back. 

single adult woman sitting on rock watching yellow and orange setting sun in distance

Take Time for Introspection

Divorce can feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, and it has the potential to send you straight into an identity crisis. Many women wonder, “Who am I if not his wife?” Instead of fixating on your failures or jumping straight into a new relationship, take some time to think about who you are as an individual, how happy you are with your life, and how you can grow into the person you want to be. You can’t give your all to another person until you’ve learned to love yourself completely. Perhaps you need to rediscover your identity independent from being a wife? Whatever or whoever you want to be, get acquainted with your new life goals. Find out what’s meaningful to you and pursue it. 

Gradually Reenter the Dating Scene

Many women worry that they’re reentering the dating scene too quickly after a divorce. Rest assured — marriage and family therapist Lisa Paz says if you feel good about it, it’s not too soon. You don’t have to set out to find your perfect match, but a light, fun date with some new company could be a refreshing change from alone time. Flirtatious attention from men can do a lot for your self-esteem and build your social network. 

Find a Reputable Divorce Lawyer to Help You Through

Whether your divorce is amicable or not, you need a legal team that can help you navigate the ins and outs of the divorce process. Our divorce lawyers are highly revered in NC and SC, and we’ll make sure you get the best outcome from your case in terms of alimony, child custody, property, and more. Call us today for a case consultation and rest easy knowing you’ve got the best defense team on your side.

UCCJEA, International Custody Order

By Rebecca K. Watts

Hamdan v. Freitekh, decided May 19, 2020 (UCCJEA, International Custody Order)

During the marriage, Mother and the children lived in Israel, while Father lived in Palestine. Mother and the children moved to North Carolina without advance notice to Father – Mother alleged that the move was due to domestic violence issues and to her concern that Father was a member of a radical Islamic group.  When Father learned of Mother’s intention to move to the United States, he instituted an action with the Shar’ia Court of Jerusalem in an effort to prevent Mother and the children from moving to the United States (by the time he filed his action, Mother and the children had already moved).  The Shar’ia Court issued a “provisional order” providing that the children would live with Mother in Israel during the week and with Father in Palestine on the weekends.  The order was served on Mother at her address in Jerusalem (after she had moved to North Carolina).  When Mother did not appear in Court after that, the Shar’ia Court entered a final custody order by default.

Father filed a petition in Union County seeking registration and of the foreign order.  Attached to the petition were copies of the provisional custody determination (in English and in Arabic) and of the final order (in Arabic only), but neither order was a certified copy in that neither included a certification that the documents were an exact reproduction of the Shar’ia Court’s orders.  The trial court granted the petition for registration and Father then moved for enforcement of the order.  The trial court granted the motion for enforcement and directed Mother to return the children to the jurisdiction of the Shar’ia court.  Mother filed her notice of appeal from the orders confirming and enforcing the foreign order.  On appeal, Mother argued that the Union County court did not have subject matter jurisdiction and that the trial court erred in enforcing the foreign order without first determining whether the law of the foreign country violates fundamental principles of human rights.  

The Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction.  The UCCJEA requires that certified copies of the order sought to be registered accompany the petition for registration, which means that if the party seeking registration of a foreign order does not submit the requisite certified copies, the trial court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter.  Because Father did not include certified copies of the orders, the trial court’s orders are void and should be vacated.  Because the subject matter jurisdiction issue was dispositive, the Court of Appeals did not address Mother’s argument regarding human rights violations.  

Reviewer’s comments:  I think Mother’s argument that in light of the domestic violence allegations, the Islamic jihadism concerns, and the default nature of the proceedings, the Shar’ia court’s order was entered in contravention of the fundamental principles of human rights and so North Carolina was not obligated to enforce the order is an interesting one.  For anyone else who thinks this is an interesting issue, Mother’s brief is worth a read.   

Pandemic Parenting

By Kelly Johnson

I’m pretty sure today is Thursday, April 9, 2020. I had to check because, let’s face it, nobody knows what freaking day it is. Kids have been out of school for several weeks and many parents have inadvertently and involuntarily become homeschool parents, in addition to continuing to perform their day jobs, in addition to washing their hands 500 times per day, in addition to social distancing from their friends and elderly family members, in addition to watching way too much Tiger King. Basically, everyone is just trying to stay sane and healthy while we patiently wait for this pandemic to end. Side note: Tiger King will help you feel sane. Promise. 

As if this stress isn’t enough, many families with custody orders and agreements are navigating these difficult days with fear that their children will be put in harm’s way by going back and forth between their parents’ homes. One parent may still be working outside of the home, one parent may not be properly “social distancing” from friends, one parent may have taken too many trips to the liquor store, one parent may be posting excessive memes on Facebook about Carole Baskin. 

The current North and South Carolina state stay-at-home-type orders allow people to follow their court orders, which includes custody orders. So, YES, they still must be followed. In general, this pandemic is not a valid reason for one parent to withhold time from the other parent, despite their concerns of travel back and forth, or their concerns for one parent remaining on the couch in PJ pants, or their concerns of the kids being exposed to fantastic Joe Exotic songs. (Of course, if someone in the home of the other parent is sick or has a fever, or there is any legitimate concern for COVID-19 exposure and/or the health and safety of the kids, that’s another story. Call your lawyer for clarification.i

This afternoon, I found myself on the phone with a police officer in a South Carolina county regarding a dispute over exchange of my client’s children. Mother and Father have a permanent custody order, which explicitly designates regular time to each parent based on the days of the week or holidays. Mother refused to allow Father to pick up the children on his day and stated that the children were not safe to stay at his home due to the pandemic. Once I provided the custody order to the officer, the issue was resolved and kids went home with Father, as provided in the regular custody schedule. However, the officer was confused about the custody schedule. 

What bewildered me, and frankly inspired me to write about this subject, was the police officer’s comment to me, “Well, the kids are all out of school so they should be following their SUMMER schedules.” My mouth dropped open. I was glad it wasn’t a video phone call, as my gum fell to the ground in slow mo. 

“Um, NO Sir!” I quickly, yet politely, exclaimed. “Kids are in school, some are now on Spring Break in certain counties; but, let’s be clear here—the summer schedules don’t trigger until the date that the school would have actually let out.” Kids are still doing schoolwork; kids are still meeting with their teachers and classmates on Zoom; kids are still learning new material; kids are still going to bed at a reasonable hour so their parents can drink all the wine and watch Netflix. Kids are certainly not enjoying their summer vacations right now—neither are teachers, for that matter. Remember, kids are just beginning the fourth quarter of their current school year. 

While this pandemic is certainly affecting our normal lives like we never imagined it would (do we even remember what “normal” feels like?), please continue to follow your regular parenting schedules until the end of the school yearii, please follow your holiday schedules for Spring Break/Easter, please do not withhold your kids from their other parent, and please, I beg you, stop inviting me to join your Facebook Group to free Joe Exotic. Just stop it. 

Use this opportunity to reconnect with your kids and try to be extra empathetic to your ex. Don’t turn your pandemic parenting into pandemonium. 

i Executive Order No. 121 State of North Carolina Stay at Home Order Executive Order No. 2020-21 State of South Carolina 06%20eFILED%20Executive%20Order%20No.%202020-21%20-%20Stay%20at%20Home%20or%20Work%20Order.pdf 

ii On April 14, 2020, the North Carolina Judicial Branch issued a memo regarding Custody and Visitation Recommendations During Covid-19.

New Office Location in Weddington, North Carolina

Our Newest Location Opens in Weddington, NC

At Collins Family Law Group, we have proudly served clients throughout North Carolina and South Carolina from our various office locations. For more than 20 years, our experienced lawyers have worked diligently to provide our clients with outstanding legal services upon which they can rely. We work hard to create effective solutions for our clients, all while maintaining a cost-conscious outlook and a compassionate demeanor. Our firm is passionate about our clients, and we are very excited to continue offering our legal services from our newest office location in Weddington, NC.

The grand opening of our Weddington location will take place on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, at which time we will officially open our doors at:

13657 Providence Road

Weddington, NC 28104

At this new location, you can expect to receive the same level of legal excellence we hope you have come to know and trust at each of our other locations in North Carolina and South Carolina. Collins Family Law Group works exclusively on family law matters, including cases concerning adoption, child custody, child support, divorce, fathers’ rights, property division, same-sex divorce, separation, and spousal support. We can also help you through the mediation process if you wish to avoid litigation.

Our entire team at Collins Family Law Group is excited about this recent opening in Weddington, NC, and we look forward to helping new individuals and families through our expansion.

If you need help with a family law or divorce issue, our firm is here for you. Contact Collins Family Law Group to discuss your case with our attorneys at our new Weddington location.

Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce All Spouses Should Know

Many divorcing couples will admit that they delayed filing for divorce because either the whole process seemed too complicated or they were worried it would cause too much conflict. This is an understandable, yet often unfortunate decision, because no one really benefits from staying in an unhappy marriage. To divorce with as little complexities, delays, and fights as possible, an alternative might be necessary.

Collaborative divorce represents an agreeable middle ground between fighting tooth-and-nail for what you want out of your divorce and walking away without fighting at all. Within collaborative divorce, both spouses hire a specially-trained collaborative divorce attorney and agree to attempt to reach an amicable solution. There will be one or a series of out-of-court meetings with all four parties: each spouse and each attorney. In many situations, spouses choose not to do much talking during collaborative divorce, and instead leave most of it up to the lawyers to sort out.

When collaboration succeeds, the following benefits can be enjoyed:

  • Collaborative divorce generally concludes in much less time compared to a contested divorce.
  • Total legal fees and court costs are greatly reduced in a collaborative divorce, as costs increase tremendously when the divorce is contested and requires frequent court hearings and trials.
  • Spouses using collaborative divorce often report reduced stress, anxiety, and anger throughout the process – divorce is always going to be stressful to some degree.
  • Collaborative divorce also allows the client to have more control over the process, as it removes the ultimate authority of a family law court judge.

Once again, it is crucial to recognize that collaborative divorce needs cooperation to succeed. If a spouse begins collaboration without the genuine intent to think about what is fair, the process is going to be rough and delayed. Indeed, if collaboration fails, both spouses may need to hire a new divorce attorney, as collaborative divorce lawyers often excuse themselves from the process in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interests during the impending litigation.


At Collins Family Law Group, we are committed to finding amicable solutions to complicated problems for our clients, with as little stress placed on them as possible. We recognize the benefits of and often encourage using collaborative divorce for this reason. If you think that you and your spouse could work together and cooperate during divorce, feel free to contact our Charlotte divorce attorneys for more information.

Stay Connected with Collins Family Law Group

Collins Family Law Group has a number of social media and other online networking accounts. Connect with us online and stay up to date with our firm! Be sure to follow / like / share when you can to spread the news about our firm’s family law services.



Our legal team has over 20 years of experience guiding clients through divorce, custody, and other family law matters. We provide the peace of mind our clients need and work hard to find creative, cost-effective solutions. Attorney Shawna Collins is a member of the Family Law Section of the North Carolina State Bar Association and is uniquely equipped to represent her clients both in and out of the family courts. Contact the firm today at (704) 289-3250 if you need a divorce attorney in Charlotte, NC.

Attorney Watts Wins Big in Court of Appeals

Protecting the rights, and sometimes even the safety, of our clients is not only our duty here at Collins Family Law Group, but it is also our passion. Therefore, it is with great pride and honor that we announce that the Court of Appeals (COA) of North Carolina has recently issued a favorable ruling in Comstock v. Comstock, a complicated domestic violence appeal handled by Rebecca WattsThrough the hard work and tireless dedication of our own Charlotte divorce attorney Rebecca Watts, and with the help of Melissa Averett, Libby Johnstone James, and Amily McCool writing an amicus brief for the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the COA created new case law.

This newly established law states that someone who has been granted a domestic violence protective order in North Carolina but then moves out of state can still renew the order in NC; they will be able to continue to receive protection from NC courts, despite no longer being a resident in this state. This is a huge deal, as it helps provide an opportunity for people fearing for their wellbeing and the safety of their family to start a new life elsewhere, even if it means crossing state borders.

All in all, we could not be any more pleased with the outcome. We know that Attorney Watts won’t rest on her laurels, though, and is already looking for the next client that requires her unrivaled skills and compassionate representation.

If you would like to know more about her, be sure to visit her attorney profile page. If you need help in a family law case of your own, please do not hesitate to contact our Charlotte divorce lawyers at (704) 289-3250 today.

Tax Consequences in a Divorce: Equitable Distribution, Alimony, and Children

Taxes are an inevitable part of life. As such, they should be kept in mind when you are dealing with matters related to divorce. There are various tax consequences that result from claims related to divorce, such as alimony, child support, child custody, and equitable distribution.

Equitable Distribution

When property is divided between you and your spouse after separation, this is considered “incident to divorce” and is not subject to taxes by the IRS according to Section 1041 of the Internal Revenue Code. However, this only applies to transfers of property between you and your spouse. If the property is transferred to a non-spouse, such as a family member, a friend, or some other person, the transfer may be subject to taxation.


Unlike child support, alimony is deductible by the payer, and the recipient must include it as income. Alimony is a payment to or for a former spouse that was either ordered by the court or agreed to in a separation agreement or court order. Alimony does not include payments that are voluntary (not ordered by a court or included in a separation agreement).

If you and your spouse do not want the alimony to be treated as income, you may do this by specifically saying in a court order or separation agreement that the payments are not alimony. However, if you are the recipient of the payments, then you will need to attach a copy of the court order or separation agreement to your tax return. You must do this each year that you receive the payments. See Chapter 18 of IRS Publication 17 for more information about alimony.


Child SupportChild support payments are not taxable income for the parent receiving the child support. Likewise, the payments are not deductible for the parent paying the child support.

However, there are other important tax considerations regarding children such as the dependency exemption, and income tax credits for childcare and medical expenses.

Dependency exemption: Parents may agree to allocate the dependency exemption in any way they desire. For example, if there are two children, the parents may agree to each claim one child every year. Or if there is one child, the parents may agree to claim the child alternating years (i.e., mom claims the child in odd years, and dad claims the child in even years). If the parents do not reach an agreement, then the IRS rules apply, in which case the custodial parent is entitled to claim the dependency exemption. The custodial parent is generally the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights during the year. If the child was with each parent for an equal number of nights, the custodial parent is the parent with the higher adjusted gross income. See IRS Publication 501 for more information about the dependency exemption.

Childcare Credit: The “child and dependent care credit” is available to the custodial parent even if the custodial parent agrees to allow the noncustodial parent to claim the dependency exemption discussed above. The childcare credit may be claimed by the custodial parent (but not the noncustodial parent) if certain requirements set by the IRS are met. For example, the childcare must have been necessary to enable you to work or look for work. There is also a limit on the amount of childcare expenses you may claim. As of 2014, the limit was $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for two or more children. See IRS Publication 503 for more information about the child and dependent care credit.

Medical and Dental Expenses Deduction: The “medical and dental expenses deduction” may be claimed by both the custodial and noncustodial parent so long as certain requirements set by the IRS are met. Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part of the body. Also included are the costs of equipment, supplies, insurance premiums, and transportation to get to the medical care. You may only deduct the amount of medical and dental expenses that exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), or 7.5% of your AGI if you were born before January 2, 1950. When calculating the amount of medical and dental expenses to determine if they exceed the relevant percentage of your AGI, you would include both the expenses you paid for yourself and your child. See IRS Publication 502 for more information about medical and dental expenses.

This information is to give you a very general overview of tax consequences related to a divorce, and should not be construed as advice. For advice about your specific case, pleasecontact an experienced family law attorney.