Important note: Child support paid by the father to the mother does NOT constitute payment of living expenses by the father. It is a payment to the mother, and not the children.
Let me rephrase my answer so it is perfectly clear. Under IRS regulations in order for any parent to claim their child as a dependent, the child MUST live with that parent more than 50% of the time and the parent must provide 50% or more of the living expenses for the child. If the child provided more than 50% of their own living expenses because they have a job, the parent cannot claim that child as a dependent.
The sole exception for divorced couples is when an agreement in a divorce gives the deduction to a specific parent-----such as your agreement does, alternating years.
So, again, in your situation, because the mother is the custodian, and because the mother provided more than 50% of the child's living expenses (because the child is not employed and paying more than half of their own) unless this is the year for the father to have 2 dependent claims per the court order, then he only gets the one deduction. Under no circumstance can the mother EVER give all 3 deductions to the father in a single year----unless the children are all living with the father more than 50% of the year.
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