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Thank you for your question.
You can only claim your grandchild if the following is true:
1. Lived with you more than half the year. In your case between January 1 and July is more than 183 days. You meet this test. AND
2. She is your biological grandchild
3. She can not be claimed on another person return (true)
4. grand child is a resident or citizen of the U.S. Mexico or Canada
5. The grand child did not provide for more than half of his own support.
The issue here is that if you were not awarded custody by the court, then the child could have still been considered resident with the parent. For determining qualifying child, even if you can claim the deduction, temporary time away from the home is not counted against the "living with the parents" rule.
If the parents claim this is a temporary time away from home, then the child is the qualifying child of both of you, the parents and the grandparents.
In this case, the tie breaker goes to the biological parent.
There is no time limit for what is considered temporary in this case.
It has to do with intention. How is it you came to have the child custody.
If you both end up claiming this child, then the IRS may have to settle the issue. AND they would use the tie breaker. You should each come to an agreement on this matter.
PROOF of living with you: to prove they lived with you, you can use school registration information, medical clinic registration information, mail they might have recieved, letters or notes or email written to you from the parents.
Thank you for your additional information. We still have the same problem. These are all temporary issues.
The issues with responsiblity and lack of carring for the kids may help you in court if this issue gets that far or in helping an inquiry to decide in your favor.
BUT I can not litigate it here.
The basic outcome is:
1. You meet the requirement as being able to claim the child as a qualifying child.
2. As long as the father asserts that the sitution is temporary, then the child is the qualifying child also of the father (parents).
Your situtation to me looks like you could prevaile in a hearing or review by the IRS.
But for now, I can only give you the rules. I can not gaurantee any kind of success other than to say, to me you may have a strong case.
It seems to me like you might do well to seek a court order regarding temporary custody, and to ensure the court adds a statement regarding who gets to claim the children.