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Everything hinges on the last sentence of your first paragraph. The qualifying factor isn't whether adding his college time to the time spent with you is more than 1/2 year, but whether adding his college time to time spent with you is more than the result of adding his college time to the time spent with your ex.

That determines who gets HoH status.

If HoH status is yours, then you can release all of the other credits to your ex via Form 8332. If you don't qualify for HoH based on what I laid out in the first paragraph, there is no way for you to obtain it through any action of your ex or yourself.

While I'm not an expert on CA tax matters, I believe CA follows the federal return with regard to dependency.

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