Roadmap for Postminority College Support

The Court of Appeals has provided a roadmap for parents claiming reimbursement of the costs of college. In Walker v. Walker, Case No. 2030388 (Ala. Civ. App. May 20, 2005), the trial court ordered the father to reimburse the mother for various costs she had incurred for the college education of the parties’ adult child (she petitioned while the child was still a minor).

One by one, the Court of Appeals considered and rejected the father’s stated grounds for appeal:

  • The award caused the father undue financial hardship (Dad owned several vehicles and six horses, and he was paying a mortgage for 56 acres in addition to his home).
  • The child changed her course of study, thus consuming more money than was necessary (The trial court can address the child’s failure to take the most expeditious and economical path to a degree in its award of postminority support, and the trial court did that in this case).
  • The trial court made the award without knowing the actual cost of college expenses (Not so; Mom had introduced adequate evidence of actual expenses).
  • The trial court failed to take account of scholarships and grants the child earned (Not so; Mom had introduced evidence of these too).
  • The trial court never inquired about the child’s part-time job (Dad had the opportunity to bring this out in cross-examination but chose not to do so; it’s not up to the court to do his cross-examining for him).
  • 21 thoughts on “Roadmap for Postminority College Support”

    1. Would an earlier proposal that the parents pay for the first two years of her college in the form written coorespondence be considered if this should end up in court? Since both mom and dad agree that the child should contribute to her college expenses. Especially if we have two more planning to attend college at the duration of that time?

    2. Sure, but considered for what it is, an offer from one of the parties that was apparently rejected by the other, that is, not at all binding on anyone.

    3. We rejected the offer since she expects us to pay for half of college and pay child support at the same time, Is this something the judge would agree to or would he order a continuious of child support?

    4. Now we have learned that her mother has informed her that she may not be emotionally ready to move away to college. Is there a time limit for us to still be committed to paying for college expenses especially after she received her letter of acceptance in October of 2007?

    5. Most provisions inserted by courts extend to age 23, but there’s nothing automatic about that, so Dad needs to make sure it gets included.

    6. What do we do if we are asked to help pay for college books even though we know our daughter has a full Pell grant, and scholarship; both of which are free money and is well over the amount of her books and tuition? The ex-wife has requested that we pay for half of my stepdaughters books even after she told her father that her mother used her refund for her first 6 months rent for an apartment. We paid child support and half of all of her first year college expenses last year and feel that the refund may very well been what we paid to the university last year. We have asked what refund she was talking about and we cannot get an answer. We have never seen any receipt for books and when we contacted the university they told my husband he was not named so he could not have access to her account details. We send our daughter $50.00 weekly so we are absolutely helping do our part. Should we send a certified letter to the ex-wife and request all of the above information so we have proof of our attempts to find out what is going on with our daughters account? By Alabama law aren’t we supposed to have access to her financial information at the University?

    7. Understand that, as the newcomer here, it’s your job to begrudge money going out for your husband’s obligations arising from before your marriage to him. As I have told others in your position, this REALLY isn’t your fight, as much as you may want to make it so. Let Dad take the lead here.

      If Dad wants to do so, he can file a petition for modification to clarify that his duty arises after the application of all financial aid. My experience is that most judges are sympathetic with that kind of provision and will insert it at the request of either party.

    8. Thank you so much, I’m sorry but I was actually asking these questions for my husband. He just hates to type! (Peck, as he calls it)I would never begrudge any monies sent out for OUR children. He had four and I had one when we met. His unyielding dedication to all of our kids is one of the reasons I chose him:). He always has the lead in our home with anything we do. Anyway, he wanted to know for sure that he has every right to access his child’s records at the university prior to hiring a lawyer. Thank you Again!

    9. Is Post minority automatic or does the mother have to ask for it? Also does a child come off of child support at a certain age or do I have to file a motion to remove the child?

    10. It’s not automatic; one of the parents must request it. If there are younger siblings, you’ll need to file a petition to modify (joint if you and the CP are cooperative, unilateral if you’re not). If this the last child and there is no Income Withholding Order in place, you can just stop when the decree says.

    11. Thank you for your reply…
      Also, is there a time to request for post minority? And, when I do a petition to modify, It goes back to the judge right? Does this mean that I and my ex-spouse have to go back to court and hash things out?

    12. is there a time to request for post minority?
      You must file before the child reaches the age of 19.

      And, when I do a petition to modify, It goes back to the judge right? Does this mean that I and my ex-spouse have to go back to court and hash things out?
      Well sure, if you and your Ex can’t work it out before then. Most people do work it out, though.

    13. My husband was served yesterday so we are headed to Elmore County Court. He requested termination of child support on Dec. 17, 2010 after his youngest child turned 19 on Dec. 9, 2010. His ex-wife also filed a petition for post minority support on Dec. 17, 2010! Our children both attend college but they both receive full Pell grants, AL State Grants and Scholarships. They both received substantial refunds from the University. The issue concerning college was reserved in their divorce. Does it matter that the children have alot of free money for college or that their mother filed for post minority support after both children reached the age of majority?

    14. Yes, it should make a difference. If the issue wasn’t reserved in the divorce documents, and if Mom didn’t raise the issue of post-majority support until both children had reached the age of majority, the judge has no jurisdiction to deal with the issue now.

    15. Thank you Lee but you missed that part in my question, the issue concerning college support was reserved in their divorce! The children should have enough free funds to pay for all “Traditional” college expenses but they both choose to live off campus in apartments and did not purchase the more affordable campus meal plans without ever discussing anything with their father. Their mother is also asking for utilities, food, car payment, car insurance, clothing & cell phone bills! Our hearing is set for Feb. anything you know that might help in our situation?

    16. Sorry about that. Dad can always argue that the cost of college is the one laid out in the PACT cost schedule. The judge may see it that way too.

    17. The court appearance ended up with our attorneys asking the judge his opinion of student loans, since the tuition, room & board,books and mandatory fees were all covered by grants & scholarships. The mother stated she didn’t want the children to graduate with a large amount of student loan debt! We then agreed to assist with half of car payments, car insurance, gas monies and clothing so long as they did not take out student loans and we were provided statements and original receipts. Our attorney drew up the agreement and now the mother is wanting to revise her request and add cell phone bills and only send us copies of paid receipts. She is refusing to sign. She has asked for a monthly gas allowance of $300.00 per month for our son ( he lives 7 tenths of a mile from campus) and $200.00 per month for our daughter (she lives 5 tenths of a mile from campus).I advised my husband to allow the judge to rule. What is your opinion of what our next course of action should be.

    18. If there is an Income Withholding Order in place when my son, who is a college student, reaches the age of majority will the child support payments automatically stop? Or will the NCP have to petition the courts to have them stopped?

    19. Unless the court personnel are unusually vigilant, the NCP will need to ask the court to stop it. It usually doesn’t take a petition, just a letter attaching a copy of the child’s birth certificate.

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