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).