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Fathers Being Forced To Pay College Costs is Not Legal

The U.S. Supreme Court implied that "a (once) married father who is separated or divorced from a mother and is no longer living with his child" could not constitutionally be treated differently from a currently married father living with his child.

Quilloin v. Walcott, 98 S.Ct. 549; 434 U.S. 246, 255-56, (1978)


 Regarding post- 18 age support:

 At Joe's request here a few cases I have for a rainy day.

Still have not found the case the lawyer was talking about regarding equal protection of married v divorced parents.

 Attachment of plaintiff's assets. The judgment attached $ 60,000 of funds the plaintiff is currently holding in a bank account.  General Laws c. 208,  [***16]    36, provides that, "when alimony or support is adjudged for the spouse or children, the Court may require sufficient security for its payment according to the judgment" (emphasis added). The plaintiff argues that the primary purpose of the attachment was to secure the college expenses of his son n10 and that, because these expenses are a future contingency, they have not yet been subject to a judgment, as required by G. L. c. 208,   36. The plaintiff concludes  [*190]  that the judge correspondingly exceeded his authority under G. L. c. 208,   36. We disagree. PHILIP N. ROSENBERG vs. CINDY M. MERIDA.  SJC-07682 SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF  MASSACHUSETTS 428 Mass. 182; 697 N.E.2d 987;

 Divorce court's order, assigning to husband the responsibility of paying college costs for children who, at time of trial, were 13 years old and ten years old, was premature.  Ketterle v. Ketterle  61 Mass.App.Ct. 758

 "[A]s a general rule, support orders regarding the future payment of post-high school educational costs are premature and should not be made." Passemato v. Passemato, 427 Mass. 52, 54 (1998). See L.W.K. v. E.R.C., 432 Mass. 438, 452, 453 (2000)

 Lastly I have a story on Mansur ( interesting the guy had to be dead before he could win!!):

The Morale is file your lawsuit, then run outside the court and fall on your sword?

Estate freed from cost of failing son's tuition

Essex ruling cites child's obligation

By Kathleen Burge, Globe Correspondent, 4/20/2001

In a groundbreaking decision, a probate judge has ruled that the estate of a divorced father can stop paying college tuition because his son's failing grades and lackluster performance prevented him from graduating in four years.

The ruling last month by Essex Probate Judge John C. Stevens suggests that children have their own obligations when it comes to getting child support. While the father was required to pay tuition, the son also had a responsibility to try to succeed in school, he found.

''I think this opens a Pandora's box for a parent to now say a child's not living up to his or her end of the bargain,'' said family practice lawyer Gary Todd, who supports the decision but who was not involved in the case. ''I think what's most interesting is you have a court looking at a child's obligation when dealing with support. Typically, you're looking at the financial obligations of a parent.''

For instance, he asks, could a noncustodial parent claim that a child who doesn't show up for scheduled visitations is violating a contract and should therefore not receive child support?

In any case, legal analysts agree that the ruling will inspire divorce lawyers to use more specific language when drafting agreements that include children's college tuition. The decision also highlights the different obligations of parents who are still married and those who are divorced.

''In an intact family, no one can go to court and have an order that your parents pay for college,'' said Harriet Schechter, the lawyer for the estate of the father, George Vinal Sr., who has since died. ''In a divorced family, you can have that.''

But for Florence Vinal, the ex-wife, the court's decision stung deeply. She made concessions to her former husband, she said, to get him to agree to pay for their son's college tuition to Boston University.

''This is destroying my son,'' she said. ''My husband was worth millions of dollars. My son was left nothing.''

She refinanced her home to keep her son at BU after her former husband, who owned a sand-and-gravel company, stopped paying tuition in May 1999, she said, and is $50,000 in debt for legal fees stemming from a court fight. George Vinal died in December 1999 and his estate continued the case against his former wife.

The Vinals divorced in 1982, when their only child was 5. George Vinal agreed to pay $400 a week in child support and for his son's college education. He also agreed to make his son the beneficiary of a $325,000 life insurance policy, but later changed it to a friend and Vinal's second wife, an action that is being contested in federal court.

The son, George Vinal Jr., enrolled in BU in 1995. For three of his first four semesters, he made the dean's list. But starting in 1997, his grades began to drop. By spring 1999, when his class graduated, he had failed five classes, received incompletes in others, and had not yet fulfilled the language and math requirements necessary for graduation, according to the court ruling.

The son allegedly didn't tell his father about his academic problems. Vinal eventually subpoenaed his son's school records and saw the low grades.

''We were quite shocked to find out his grades had fallen off as much as they had,'' Schechter said.

Florence Vinal said her son's grades dropped because he was distraught about seeing his father less, and because he switched to a more demanding double major in political science and philosophy.

In 1999, George Vinal Sr., diagnosed with cancer, asked that his child-support obligations be reduced. Since his son wasn't doing well in school, he argued, his son wasn't holding up his part of the bargain and tuition payments should end.

But Florence Vinal argued that the divorce agreement stipulated that the father pay for college through December 1999. The agreement didn't mention, she said, that the son needed to maintain a certain grade-point average.

Yesterday, Florence Vinal's lawyer, Linda O'Connell, argued that the son was young when his parents made their divorce agreement. Not only was he not involved, the lawyer said, but he didn't know about the details.

But Stevens ruled that the estate of the father was not responsible for tuition payments past May 1999, when the son should have graduated. The son, Stevens said, may have stayed in school to remain a beneficiary of his father's life insurance policy.

''That the son chose to pursue a double major, allowed his course work to fall so far behind, and failed several required courses is the son's responsibility,'' Stevens wrote. ''The father need not bear the economic burden of his son's deficient academic performance.''

I of course got screwed on this one.  I was AN EXCEPTION!! Thanks to Judge Moynihan. 

Bill From VA