Bayliss v. Bayliss – 550 So. 2d 986 (Ala. 1989)

Case Name: Bayliss v. Bayliss
Citation: 550 So. 2d 986 (Ala. 1989)

Issue: Does a non-custodial parent have a legal obligation to pay for college expenses for their post-minority child?

  • Post-minority: over the age of 18 but still unable to support themselves.

Key Facts: Patrick Bayliss was the son of Cherry R. Bayliss and John Martin Bayliss III. The couple divorced when Patrick was 12 years old. When he was 18, his mother filed a petition to modify the final judgment of divorce to order her ex-husband to pay for Patrick’s college.

Holding:  Yes the court has a right to assure that the children of divorced parents, who are minors at the time of divorce, are given the same right to a college education before and after they reach the age of 19 years that they probably would have if their parents had not divorced.

Reasoning: In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or a modification of a divorce judgment, a trial court may award sums of money out of the property and income of either or both parents for the post-minority education of a child of that dissolved marriage, when application is made therefore, before the child attains the age of majority.
The trial court should consider factors including primarily the financial resources of the parents and the child and the child’s commitment to, and aptitude for, the requested education. The trial court also may consider, the standard of living that the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved and the family unit had been preserved and the child’s relationship with his parents and responsiveness to parental advice and guidance.