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Adoption Subsidy Does Not Replace Parent’s Child Support Obligation

A recent appellate opinion by the 5th District Court of Appeal discussed the impact of an adoption subsidy on a parent’s child support obligation. In the case of Tluzek v. Tluzek, the Circuit Court for Seminole County ruled that any adoption subsidy ruled that any child support obligation owed by Father should be offset by the adoption subsidy received by mother from the state of Florida. The appellate court, however, disagreed, and ruled that an adoption subsidy for a child could not be a credit against the father’s child support obligation. As a result, the higher court reversed the trial court’s decision on this issue and ordered that the father’s obligation be retroactively reinstated.

Allocation of the Adoption Subsidy Between Divorced Parents: The Trial Court Decision

The Tluzeks adopted two special-needs children during their marriage, and, as a result, received a monthly adoption subsidy in the amount of $590.00 pursuant to Florida Statutes, Section 409.166. Based on the parties’ agreed upon shared parenting plan, the trial court determined that Father owed $160.44 per month under Florida’s child support guidelines. Initially, the trial court ordered that the adoption subsidy acted as a credit against the father’s child support obligation, which would result in the mother paying $429.56 of the monthly adoption subsidy to the father. Upon rehearing, the court evenly allocated the adoption subsidy between the parties, but eliminated the father’s child support obligation altogether.

Appeals Court Overturns Trial Court Decision

The appellate court pointed out that an adoption subsidy is intended to assist adoptive parents with the extra costs that a special-needs child typically requires, and to further the goal of encouraging individuals to adopt special-needs children. The payment of such a subsidy, however, does not negate a parent’s obligation to support his or her child, nor does it replace the necessary support for the child. To allow a parent to escape financial responsibility for a child due to a state-paid subsidy would contradict the legislative intent behind the statute that establishes the adoption subsidy program in the state of Florida. As a result, the court reasoned, terminating the father’s child support obligation in this case actually financially shortchanges the two children. Therefore, the appeals court reversed the trial court’s order, and reinstated the father’s child support obligation on a retroactive basis.

Call Your Florida Family Law Attorney for Assistance Today

At Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, we know how complex child support calculations can be in these very fact-sensitive scenarios. Accordingly, you need the support that the well-established lawyers at our law firm can offer. We pride ourselves on our ability to apply the facts of your situation to the law in a manner that is most beneficial to you, and develop a strategy for handling your case that will further your interests to the greatest degree possible. Consult a Fort Lauderdale child support attorney at our office today, and learn how we can help you with child support, as well as all other aspects of your divorce or family law case.