For a child or other person to be considered your dependent, they must live with you and you must provide them with more than half of their support. Spouses do not count as dependents in the Federal Methodology. You and your spouse cannot both claim the same child as a dependent. (See also Independent.)
A ward of the court
A ward of the court is someone under the protection of the courts. The ward of the court may have a guardian appointed by the court. The legal guardian is not personally liable for the ward's expenses and is not liable to third parties for the ward's debts.
Although a ward of the court can have a legal guardian, having a legal guardian does not automatically make the child a ward of the court. A legal guardian can be appointed by parental consent through a power of attorney. A legal guardian must have been appointed by the court and the parent's rights terminated for the child to be a ward of the court. When a guardian is appointed by the court and the parent's rights terminated, the parent no longer has the authority to revoke the guardianship.
Some states use "ward of the state" synonymously with "ward of the court", usually referring to a foster child in the custody of a public child welfare agency. In other states, however, "ward of the state" refers to individuals who are or were incarcerated. Incarceration does not make one independent. One needs to be careful to distinguish "confinement" from "legal custody", as the two are different concepts that should not be confused.
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