Post-Minority Support

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Alabama Supreme Court Issues New Post-Minority Support Ruling

On Friday October 4, 2013, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered an end to Ex Parte Baylis where divorced parents who don’t live with their child are ordered to pay college costs for children after they turn 19.   The justices in a 6-2 decision stated that “child support statute does not authorize a court to require a noncustodial parent to pay educational support for children over the age of 19.”

This new ruling will not undo prior cases where post-minority support was ordered, but it will effect pending or future cases regarding support after a child reaches the age of 19.  Justice Roy Moore wrote the majority opinion stating that there was no law giving grounds for post-minority support, but he would leave that to the legislature if they decided divorced parents should pay child expenses after a child turns 19.  The full court opinion regarding Ex Parte Carolyn Sue Christopher can be found by clicking here.

If you have questions about post minority support or another family law issue, please contact Mallory Beaton with Beckum Kittle LLP today by calling 205-358-3100 or emailing Ms. Beaton directly at mbeaton@beckumkittle.com.

What is Post-Minoirty Support?

In Alabama, the age of majority is 19 years old, which means if parents get divorced or a couple have a child outside of a marriage then child support payments continue by law until the child reaches the age of 19.  There is also something called post-minority support which is an additional award benefiting the child after he or she reaches 19 years old.  This can be for post-secondary education such as attending college.  Post-minority support is not an extension of existing child support, and it is not calculated or awarded in the same way.

The court case determining post-minority support in the state of Alabama was Ex Parte Bayliss where the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that in certain situations a non-custodial parent could be ordered to pay a portion of his or her child’s post-secondary education expenses.  It is not mandatory in all cases and is only awarded in certain situations.  The factors for considering post-minority support are the financial resources of the parents and the child, the child’s commitment and ability to complete the education, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had there been no divorce or if the parents were married, the child’s relationships with the parents, and the child’s responsiveness to parental advice and guidance.  The request must also be made before the child reaches the age of 19.

The support is for necessary expenses which include room, board, books, tuition, and fees, but the courts are always examining other areas of expansion for the term “necessary”.  Typically a child has to maintain certain grades and grade point average and be enrolled as a full time student.  Also money that the child receives as a part of loans, scholarships, grants, or a job are to be considered.  Typically there is also an age limit of 23 for these expenses.

If you have questions about post-minority support for your children or another family law question, please contact Mallory N. Beaton at Beckum Kittle by calling 205-358-3100 or emailing her at mbeaton@beckumkittle.com.