Bayliss Overturn: Post Minority Support Reversed After 24 Years

No more Bayliss! College students are about to get owned by Sallie Mae.
No more Bayliss! College students are about to get owned by Sallie Mae.

Last Monday we wrote a blog based on post minority support focusing on support for college expenses. Under the 1989 Bayliss case we mentioned and covered, the noncustodial parent could be Ordered to pay for some post minority support granted the factors previously mentioned were covered. However, ironically, on Friday the Alabama Supreme Court reversed Bayliss causing many of our clients and other custodial parents relying on its standing and enforceability much distress. It caused me so much distress that I delayed this blog post FOUR days! (Kidding, I have been super busy at work).

The case in which I’m referring to is Christopher v. Christopher. In this case the father and mother were fighting over whether the mother would contribute to their child’s college expenses. She was Ordered by the trial Court in Limestone County to pay 25% of the expenses.  She appealed the decision of the Order because she said she was not financially able to provide for her son’s college education among many other numerous reasons. Of course this is the short and sweet version. This case challenged multiple aspects of the 1989 case that provided for post minority support for over 24 years now. What was the outcome?

Today we no longer have caselaw supporting post minority support for children who show an aptitude, ability, or willingness to go to college. To put it simply is this:

  1. There is no statutory law allowing for support past the age of majority. Support is statutorily supposed to stop at the age of 19. That is when the child is removed from the restraints of minority.
  2. The Bayliss Court overstepped their powers by legislating through caselaw.
  3. If the Legislature had agreed with Bayliss they would have passed a law extending the age of majority throughout the college years.
  4. All cases pending and in the future requesting post minority support are to follow the new rules. However, all cases that were decided before this decision will be upheld. (Though one has to wonder, if the Bayliss court overstepped their boundaries and legislated through judicial authority thus technically creating a law and then upholding that law for 24 years… what is this really going to lead to in the future?)

My opinion on this decision is unimportant. I won’t bore you with how we reacted to the change, but let’s just say that many children will now do without college because who’s going to force the parent who refuses to help as it is to step it up and help when the time comes that the child is no longer under their parent’s wing.  Perhaps, that’s not the case though. Maybe the amount of student loan debt in this county will continue to rise. OR… maybe the legislature will draw up something requiring some college education…

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