What, if any custody does your daughter's father have? If he established custody, either through a petition to establish custody or a divorce, then I would double check the court's order. If he has not established any custody rights, then you have a strong case to claim your daughter as your dependent. There are different ways parents handle claiming a child for tax purposes. Some alternate years, and some do it based on parenting time. If there is no prior agreement, then I suggest speaking with your ex trying to come to an agreement on how to handle this issue. But you cannot both claim the child as a dependent for the same year.
In general, either parent has the right to claim their child as a dependent, however, under the circumstances, it would be subject to whatever you agree to. I would speak with a lawyer to fully evaluate your situation.
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The child care credit goes with the dependency exemption. If you do not claim her as a dependent, you cannot claim the child care. The tax rules state that you must contribute 51% of a dependent's expenses. I recommend that you do not give up the dependency exemption, and definitely not without consulting an attorney. You should hire an attorney and come to an agreement about this, but you should not give up the exemption without getting something in return. At the very least, child support can be modified to include the additional income from the tax return. An attorney can help with this.
You definitely need to consult with an attorney. It would be a good idea to reach an agreement with your child's father and put it in writing. This will help to prevent any tax issues in the future.
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