Generally, to claim a child as a dependent, that child had to live with you for over half the year. If the child did not live with you at all during the year, it is typically the case that someone else (usually the custodial parent) is entitled to claim that child as a dependent. However, you (in most cases, the noncustodial parent) may still be able to claim the child as a dependent if the custodial parent signs a Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption, or a form containing all of the same information listed on this form.
By completing Form 8332, the custodial parent would be indicating that he or she wishes to release his or her claim to a dependency exemption for the child on the form. Without this form, you generally cannot claim a child who did not live with you as a dependent because they are the qualifying child of someone else.
To view Form 8332 and its instructions, click here. To include Form 8332 with your return, you must print it and complete it. Mail your return along with Form 8332 to the IRS for processing.
For more information on claiming exemptions for the children of divorced or separated parents, click here.