290 U.S. 202 (1933), 14, Yarborough v. Yarborough

Docket Nº:No. 14
Citation:290 U.S. 202, 54 S.Ct. 181, 78 L.Ed. 269
Party Name:Yarborough v. Yarborough
Case Date:December 04, 1933
Court:United States Supreme Court

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290 U.S. 202 (1933)

54 S.Ct. 181, 78 L.Ed. 269




No. 14

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 4, 1933

Argued October 12, 13, 1933



1. A decree of a state court fixing the obligation of a divorced father for the support and education of his minor daughter held binding, under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, on the

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courts of another state to which the daughter and the divorced mother had removed and in which it was sought to force additional contributions from the father by attachment of his local property. P. 208 et seq.

2. By the law of Georgia, a decree in a divorce suit fixing the permanent alimony that the husband must pay for the support and education of his minor child may be entered by consent of the husband and wife before the rendition of the two concurring verdicts which the law makes necessary for the granting of total divorce; it becomes unalterable after the expiration of the term at which the total divorce was granted. P. 209.

3. The provision which the Georgia law makes for permanent alimony for the child does not vest a property right in him, but is an incident of the divorce proceeding. Jurisdiction of the parents in that suit confers jurisdiction over the minor's custody and support. P. 210.

4. Hence, by the Georgia law, a consent (or other) decree in a divorce suit fixing permanent alimony for a minor child is binding upon him, although the child was not served with process, was not made a formal party to the suit, and was not represented by guardian ad litem. P. 210.

5. Appearance of both parents in the divorce proceeding in Georgia, the domicile of the father, gave the Georgia court complete jurisdiction of the marriage status and, as an incident, power to finally determine the extent of the father's obligation to support the child, though the child was residing in another state when the judgment was entered. P. 211.

6. The fact that the child became a resident of the other state did not enable that state to impose additional duties on the father, who continued to be domiciled in Georgia. P. 212.

168 S.C. 46, 166 S.E. 877, reversed.

Certiorari, 289 U.S. 718, to review the affirmance of a judgment for support, etc., of a minor child.

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BRANDEIS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

On August 10, 1930, Sadie Yarborough, then sixteen years of age, was living with her maternal grandfather, R. D. Blowers, at Spartansburg, South Carolina. Suing by him as guardian ad litem, she brought this action in a court of that state to require her father, W. A. Yarborough, a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, to make provision for her education and maintenance. She alleged

that she is now ready for college and is without funds, and, unless the defendant makes provision for her, will be denied the necessities of life and an education, and will be dependent upon the charity of others.1

Jurisdiction was obtained by attachment of defendant's property. Later, he was served personally within South Carolina.

In bar of the action, W. A. Yarborough set up, among other defenses, a judgment entered in 1929 by the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, in a suit for divorce brought by him against Sadie's mother. He alleged that, by the judgment, the amount thereafter to be paid by him for Sadie's education and maintenance had been determined; that the sum so fixed had been paid, and that the judgment had been fully satisfied by him. He claimed that, in Georgia, the judgment was conclusive of the matter here in controversy; that, having been satisfied, it relieved him, under the Georgia law, of all obligation to provide for the education and maintenance of their minor child, and that the full faith and credit clause of the Federal Constitution (Art. IV, § 1) required the State of South Carolina court to give to that judgment the same effect in this proceeding which it has, and would have, in Georgia. The trial court denied the claim; ordered W. A. Yarborough to pay to the grandfather, as trustee, $50 monthly for Sadie's education and support, and to pay

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$300 as fees of her counsel. It directed that the property held under the attachment be transferred to R. D. Blowers, trustee, as security for the performance of the order. The judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. A petition for rehearing was denied, with opinion. 168 S.C. 46, 166 S.E. 877. This Court granted certiorari. 289 U.S. 718.

For some time prior to June, 1927, W. A. Yarborough, his wife, and their daughter Sadie had lived together at Atlanta, Georgia where he then was, and ever since has been, domiciled. In that month, Sadie's mother left Atlanta for Hendersonville, N.C., where she remained during the summer. Sadie joined her there, after a short stay at a camp. In September, 1927, while they were at Hendersonville, W. A. Yarborough brought, in the superior court for Fulton county at Atlanta, suit against his wife for a total divorce on the ground of mental and physical cruelty. Mrs. Yarborough filed an answer and also a cross-suit in which she prayed a total divorce, the custody of the child, and

that provision for permanent alimony be made for the support of the respondent and the minor child above mentioned [Sadie], and for the education of said minor child.

An order, several times modified, awarded to the wife the custody of Sadie, and as temporary alimony sums "for the support and maintenance of herself and her minor daughter Sadie." Hearings were held from time to time at Atlanta. At some of these, Sadie (and also her grandfather) was personally present. But she was not formally made a party to the litigation, she was not served with process, and no guardian ad litem was appointed for her therein.

"Two concurring verdicts favoring a total divorce to plaintiff having been rendered,"2 a decree of total divorce,

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with the right in each to remarry, was entered on June 7, 1929; the wife was ordered to pay the costs, and jurisdiction of the case "was retained for the purpose of further enforcement of the orders of the court theretofore passed."3 Among such orders was the provision for the maintenance and education of Sadie here relied upon as res judicata. It was entered on January 17, 1929 (after the rendition of the first verdict), and provided:

Parties, plaintiff and defendant, having personally and in writing, consented hereto, and their respective counsel of record having likewise in writing consented hereto.

It is considered, ordered, and adjudged that the following settlement be hereby made the order of the Court, the same being in full settlement of temporary and permanent alimony in said case, and in full settlement of all other demands of every nature whatsoever between the parties.

Then followed, after describing certain mortgages:

It is considered, ordered and adjudged that said mortgages be, and they are hereby transferred, sold and assigned by the plaintiff, W. A. Yarborough to the defendant, Mrs. Susie B. Yarborough to the extent of One Thousand, Seven Hundred Fifty Dollars ($1,750.00), and the plaintiff, W. A. Yarborough, does hereby transfer, sell and assign said mortgages to R. D. Blowers, of Spartansburg, South Carolina, as Trustee for Sadie Yarborough, minor daughter of plaintiff and defendant, to the extent

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of One Thousand, Seven Hundred Fifty Dollars ($1,750.00). . . . The amount to be thus received by R. D. Blowers as Trustee for Sadie Yarborough, minor daughter of plaintiff and defendant, shall be expended by him in his discretion for the benefit of the minor child, including her education, support, maintenance, medical attention and other necessary items of expenditure.

Upon compliance with this order by the plaintiff, he shall be relieved of all payments of alimony and counsel fees in said case except that the payment due under the prior order of Court of the sum of Fifty Dollars ($50.00) for the month of January, 1929, (to Mrs. Yarborough for the support of herself and Sadie) shall be by him paid in addition to the other amounts hereinbefore named. . . .

The provisions of the order of the Court heretofore entered fixing the times and the places when plaintiff, W. A. Yarborough, shall have the right to visit and have with him, out of the presence of the defendant, the said Sadie Yarborough, minor daughter of plaintiff and defendant, are hereby continued in force.

W. A. Yarborough complied fully with this order.

By the law of Georgia, it is the duty of the father to provide for the maintenance and education of his child until maturity.4 Willful abandonment of a minor child, leaving it in a dependent condition, is a misdemeanor.5 The mere loss of custody by the father does not relieve him of his obligation to provide for maintenance and education, even where the custody passes to the mother pursuant to a decree of divorce.6 If the father fails to make such provision, any person (including a divorced wife)

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who furnishes necessaries of life to his minor child may recover from him therefor unless precluded by the terms of the decree in the divorce suit or otherwise.7 In case of total divorce, the court is authorized to make, by its decree, [54 S.Ct. 184] final or permanent provision for the maintenance and education of children during minority, and thus fix the extent of the father's obligation.8 But, even if the decree for total divorce fails to include a provision for the support of minor children, they cannot maintain in their own names, or by guardian ad litem, or by next friend, an independent suit for an allowance for education and maintenance.9

First. It was...

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