Hughes v. Hughes, 0077

Decision Date07 November 1983
Docket NumberNo. 0077,0077
Citation280 S.C. 388,313 S.E.2d 32
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals
PartiesNancy HUGHES, Respondent, v. Richard H. HUGHES, Appellant. . Heard

Nicholas C. Lempesis, Charleston, for appellant.

Steven James, Charleston, for respondent.


The parties were granted a divorce in 1972. The respondent mother brought this action in 1980 to require the appellant father to provide child support to assist in financing the college education of the parties' eighteen-year-old daughter. The father counterclaimed, seeking child support for two minor children who resided with him. The Family Court ordered the father to pay $300 per semester toward his daughter's education and denied his prayer for child support. The father appeals both these rulings. We affirm.

The father first assigns as error the rejection of his plea that the matter of child support for his college-bound daughter, Robin, was res judicata. The father argues that because the 1972 decree required him to pay child support for his "minor children," the mother cannot now seek support for a child who has reached the age of majority. The lower court properly rejected this plea. A prior action concerning child support is res judicata only as long as the circumstances existing at the time of the prior action have remained the same. Walker v. Walker, 63 N.C.App. 644, 306 S.E.2d 485 (1983). An order of child support is subject to modification upon the showing of a sufficient change of conditions. Perkins v. Parkins, 309 S.E.2d 784 (S.C.App., 1983). A sufficient showing of a change in the child's needs was shown here. Robin had an outstanding high school career and desired to attend college. She was entitled to no further assistance from her father under the 1972 decree. These circumstances, of course, did not exist at the time of the 1972 decree. The doctrine of res judicata, therefore, does not operate to bar this action.

The father next contends the lower court erred in ordering him to contribute to Robin's college education. The determination of the circumstances under which a divorced parent may be ordered to help pay for the educational expenses of an emancipated child is left largely in the hands of the family court judges. Risinger v. Risinger, 273 S.C. 36, 253 S.E.2d 652 (1979); Kerr v. Kerr, 278 S.C. 191, 293 S.E.2d 704 (1982). Our Supreme Court has not attempted to list all the circumstances when such orders might be appropriate but has found them appropriate when there was evidence that (1) the characteristics of the child indicated he would benefit from college, (2) the child demonstrated the ability to at least make satisfactory grades, (3) the child could not otherwise go to school, and (4) the parent had the financial ability to help pay for such an education. Risinger; Kerr.

There is no dispute Robin would benefit from college and showed the ability to do well. The father does dispute, however, the finding that his assistance was necessary to enable Robin to attend college. Among factors to be considered in determining whether and to what extent financial assistance for college is necessary are the availability of grants and loans and the ability of a child to earn income during the school year or on vacation. Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529, 443 A.2d 1031, 1038-39 (1982). We find these factors relevant because an emancipated child has a duty to help minimize college expenses when a parent's financial support for these expenses is sought through the family courts. Cf. Risinger (child minimized college expenses). We find that Robin fulfilled this duty and that the lower court properly considered these factors in ordering support of $300 per semester.

Robin industriously sought to defray her college expenses in most every respect. She was able to finance the bulk of her expenses through loans and a scholarship earned as a result of her fine high school record, but there still remained an annual shortfall of approximately $700 in...

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15 cases
  • Lacke v. Lacke
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • January 10, 2005
    ...has the financial ability to help pay for such an education. Id. at 39, 253 S.E.2d at 653-54. Subsequently, in Hughes v. Hughes, 280 S.C. 388, 313 S.E.2d 32 (Ct.App.1984), this Court elaborated upon the third prong of the Risinger test. We adjudged [a]mong the factors to be considered in de......
  • McDuffie v. McDuffie
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • April 13, 1992
    ...required to pay part of his college expenses because "Risinger should apply only where there is true hardship."); Hughes v. Hughes, 280 S.C. 388, 313 S.E.2d 32 (Ct.App.1984) (a father was ordered to assist in paying for his daughter's education where she financed the bulk of the cost hersel......
  • Hickman v. Hickman
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • January 25, 1988
    ...285 S.C. 430, 329 S.E.2d 788 (Ct.App.1985); McKinney v. McKinney, 282 S.C. 96, 316 S.E.2d 728 (Ct.App.1984); Hughes v. Hughes, 280 S.C. 388, 313 S.E.2d 32 (Ct.App.1984). Concerning the younger son, the requirement that Mr. Hickman pay a portion of his college expenses is premature at best, ......
  • Chastain v. Chastain
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • May 29, 1986
    ...needs constitute exceptional circumstance warranting continuation of support orders beyond child's majority); Hughes v. Hughes, 280 S.C. 388, 313 S.E.2d 32 (Ct.App.1984) (in assessing a parent's responsibility to provide financial assistance to a child in college, court should consider gran......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Clear Agreements as the Best Prevention
    • United States
    • South Carolina Bar South Carolina Lawyer No. 34-1, July 2022
    • Invalid date
    ...v. Risinger, 273 S.C. 36, 39, 253 S.E.2d 652, 653-54 (1979)). [34] Risinger, 273 S.C. at 29, 253 S.E.2d at 653. [35] Hughes v. Hughes, 280 S.C. 388, 391, 313 S.E.2d 32, 33-34 (Ct. App. 1983); McDuffie v. McDuffie, 313 S.C. 397, 399, 438 S.E.2d 239, 241 (1993). [36] Webb v. Sowell, 387 S.C. ......

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