Money and graduation hat | college expenses | Max Hyde Law Firm | Family and Divorce Lawyer | Spartanburg, South Carolina

For most high school seniors, one of the rites of spring has become the college application process and the attendant need for funding college expenses. Indeed, spring for high school seniors (and their parents) is a season of change. And it’s a time to seek scholarships, grants, and loans long after submitting college applications.

This rite financially impacts many families. In my practice of handling college expense cases, I see divorced families. Especially, dealing with the question of who is responsible for funding college.

The South Carolina case law governing college expenses has changed – again and again – during my years of practice.

In 1979, the South Carolina Supreme Court allowed family court judges to order unmarried or divorced parents to pay for their child’s college expenses. In the 1979 case of Risinger v. Risinger, the Court established a four-prong test, which the family court judge addresses. Whether the child’s characteristics indicate that he or she will benefit from college.

  1. The child demonstrates the ability to do well or make satisfactory grades.
  2. The child cannot otherwise go to school.
  3. The parent has the financial ability to help pay for such an education.

Years later, in the 2010 case of Webb v. Sowell, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed Risinger and held that it was unconstitutional to order an unmarried or divorced parent to pay for college expenses. And, most recently, in the 2012 case of McLeod v. Starnes, the South Carolina Supreme Court reinstated Risinger v. Risinger and its progeny, ruling that, once again, it is constitutional to order an unmarried or divorced parent to pay for college expenses.
Spartanburg Family Lawyer, Spartanburg Divorce Lawyer