That SC 1979 decision seems to have been reversed by a new one, at least in part
South Carolina Supreme Court Overturns College Support Law
Posted on April 22, 2010 by J. Benjamin Stevens
This week, the South Carolina Supreme Court
overturned a 1979 decision, under which parents could be ordered to
contribute to their children's college expenses. In this new case, Webb v. Sowell,
the Father appealed after he was ordered to contribute to college
expenses for his son. The Court reversed the trial court's decision,
finding that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the federal and state constitutions.
S.C. Code Ann. Section 63-3-530(A)(17) provides
that child support orders terminate when the child reaches age 18,
marries, or becomes self-supporting, but a court may order the
continuation of support beyond age 18 for certain "exceptional
circumstances." In Risinger v. Risinger,
273 S.C. 36, 253 S.E.2d 652 (1979), the Supreme Court held that a
desire to attend college may constitute such exceptional circumstances.
However, in Webb v. Sowell, the Court found that Risinger was wrongly decided. Specifically, it held that while Risinger allowed
a court to order a parent subject to a support order to pay college
expenses, it did not grant such power over a parent not subject to a support order, and there is no common law duty on parents to pay for an adult child's post-secondary education.
Therefore, the statute, as interpreted by Risinger, fails the
rational basis test and thus does not meet the constitutional
requirements of Equal Protection. You can read the full text of Webb v. Sowell by clicking here.