When completing their tax returns, Ohio residents can claim qualifying dependents and encounter almost no issues. However, in situations in which multiple taxpayers are claiming the same dependents, such as when separated or divorce parents both claim their children, the process can quickly become complicated, forcing the Internal Revenue Service to examine the returns and decide which claim to allow.

Being able to claim dependents can be beneficial: Parents may be able to claim the Head of Household filing status. They may also claim related tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

If more than one taxpayer is claiming the same dependents and no divorce, custody or separation agreement is in place stating which party is able to claim the dependents, the IRS will have to use a series of rules to make a decision about which claim to deny and which claim to allow. The rules consider certain factors, including the relationship between the dependents and the taxpayer, where the dependents lived during the tax year and, if needed, the adjusted gross income of the taxpayers.

Separated or divorced parents may find it beneficial to discuss the claiming of their children as dependents before filing tax returns. If not, it will be up to the IRS to determine which party has the reasonable claim to the related tax credits.

A divorce attorney may work to protect the rights and interests of parents who have disputes regarding divorce legal issues, such as child custody and child support. Negotiation may be used to obtain favorable settlement terms regarding which party is to claim the children as dependents and claim any related tax credits. Depending on the circumstances of a case, litigation may be necessary to obtain the desired settlement terms.