They wanted a trial on this one issue. No need to fight I said, the law is very clear, I can help you out here:
Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, the court shall allocate the right to claim dependent children for income tax purposes between the parties. These rights shall be allocated between the parties in proportion to their contributions to the costs of raising the children. CRS 14-10-115(12).
If you don’t agree to do anything different, I’ll just order that! Seems fair they said, and they started to pack up their belongings and leave the courtroom. Half way to the door, the penny dropped. One of them asked, how do we do that? Either you get the exemption or you don’t. How does that work?
This law is a poster child for the benefits of negotiation and mediation. I said this to the father who was a stickler for accuracy and detail. He paid 45% of the costs of care. All I can do is order that the rights shall be allocated to you 45% of the time I said. The mother wanted the exemptions for two of the three children every year, i.e. 66.6%, not 55%. Neither was exactly happy.
Perhaps you should think about at that “unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties” bit of the statue, I said. Perhaps one of you could offer something in exchange for a 50:50 split. They were a 50:50 couple, with fifty-fifty parenting time and everything else split down the middle.
To their credit, they did a deal. Each parent took the exemption for one child every year, and they agreed to alternate years for the third child’s exemption. The deal was to re-order parenting time to be more convenient to mother's schedule. They were really talking to each other at that point, and they never came back.
Moral of the story: you really can do better in mediation than you ever could in court. This couple left knowing what they were doing, and how to do it.