Former wife appealed a final judgment of dissolution. Former Wife argued that it was reversible error to order that their monthly adoption subsidy should be offset against Former Husband’s child support obligations.
The Fifth District Court of Appeals (Fifth DCA) found that an adoption subsidy provided by the State of Florida to the parents of special-needs children may not be considered as credit against a child support obligation. The Fifth DCA, looking to the legislative intent of the adoption subsidy program and other states with similar statues, found that purpose of the subsidy is to encourage the adoption of special needs children by providing additional financial support to assist in meeting the extra care a special-needs child requires. If such payments are used as a credit for child support, it removes the intended benefit of additional resources and subsidizes the obligor’s financial responsibility for the children.
The Fifth DCA sets forth the proper procedure for allocating the subsidy and determining support. First, the parents’ child support obligation should be established. Then, the subsidy should be allocated according to the amount of custody granted to the parents without credit or offset.