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As usual, Phil is right on the money.

So I only have to address the practical matters.

In practice, as long as both ex-spouses don't claim the same child, the IRS will accept whatever is filed, even if it disagrees with any divorce paperwork.

When both spouses attempt to claim the same child, the second spouse to file will have their electronic filing rejected. That's the warning there will be some issues. They can file on paper, and then the IRS will apply the rules Phil outlined to decide who gets the dependency exemption and who doesn't.

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