Awarding Tax Dependency Credit To Non Custodial Parent Not Prejudicial When Custodial Parent Has No Income

New Case Law: CB v. DB Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District - SD31614

Notwithstanding the fact that the Missouri case law generally states that tax benefits must go to the custodial spouse unless the trial court expressly finds it unjust or inappropriate to do so, our western district has held that noncompliance with Form 14 directions is not reversible error unless the appellant is prejudiced thereby. Sarwar v. Sarwar, 117 S.W.3d at 171. Appellate review is for prejudice, not mere error Pruett v. Pruett, 280 S.W.3d 749, 751 (Mo.App. 2009).

“Here, Wife does not argue or suggest any prejudice, nor could [the Court] glean any from the scant record that she has provided. In fact, the indication is otherwise. In her post-trial motion, Wife represented to the trial court that her only income during the two-year history of litigation was unemployment benefits, which had expired; that she had been unable to obtain employment; and that her gross income was “zero.” By contrast, Husband was earning an income, and apparently could benefit from the tax exemption, while Wife seemingly could not. A judgment will not be reversed unless an appellant is prejudiced by an error that materially affected the merits of an action. Rule 84.13(b).”

Wife did not meet her obligation to show that she was entitled to appellate relief and the judgment was affirmed.