Wagner v. Wagner

Decision Date27 February 1985
Docket NumberNo. 0457,0457
Citation329 S.E.2d 788,285 S.C. 430
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals
PartiesLana S. WAGNER, Individually and E. Ross Wagner, Jr., Respondents, v. Ervin R. WAGNER, Sr., Appellant. . Heard

Randall M. Chastain and Mary J. Larsen, both of Columbia, for appellant.

Eugene C. Griffith, of Griffith, Mays, Foster & Kittrell, Newberry, for respondents.


Lana S. Wagner (the mother) and E. Ross Wagner, Jr. (the son) brought this action against Ervin R. Wagner, Sr. (the father) for support and maintenance for college expenses of the son, who was 18 years old at the time and planned to attend Newberry College. The trial court ordered the father to pay $200 per month as support toward the education of the son. We reverse in part and remand.

The father first asserts that the son does not qualify for support beyond the age of 18.

Educational needs have been determined to be exceptional circumstances justifying under certain situations support payments of a dependent child beyond the age 18. Risinger v. Risinger 273 S.C. 36, 253 S.E.2d 652 (1979).

Risinger also contained the following pertinent language:

We do not presume to list all circumstances under which a divorced parent may be ordered to help pay for the educational expenses of a child over 18 years of age. That determination must be left largely in the hands of our family court judges. Without holding that these are the only circumstances under which a family court's award is proper, we hold that a family court judge may require a parent to contribute that amount of money necessary to enable a child over 18 to attend high school and four years of college, where, as here, there is evidence that: (1) the characteristics of the child indicate that he or she will benefit from college; (2) the child demonstrates the ability to do well, or at least make satisfactory grades; (3) the child cannot otherwise go to school; and (4) the parent has the financial ability to help pay for such an education.

The trial judge in this case apparently found that the four enumerated factors were the criteria of establishing whether a father should be required to make child support payments for educational purposes. And he made specific findings of fact as to each of the above-named factors. He then held that the father was obligated to contribute $200 per month toward the education of the son at Newberry College.

A close reading of Risinger clearly shows that the court did not intend that these four factors be all inclusive. Since Risinger this court has published the case of Hughes v. Hughes, 280 S.C. 388, 313 S.E.2d 32 (Ct.App.1984); in this case this court announced, with good reason the writer believes, two other considerations which must be taken into account when ordering support for an emancipated child to attend college; these are: (1) the availability of grants and loans and (2) the ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation.

This is the situation in which the father is obviously reluctant to contribute to his child's education. In such a situation, it is encumbent upon a child to assist, as far as possible, himself in his education. When the son was asked during the hearing in this case if he intended to work while attending college, he answered that he did not intend to work but intended to play football. The record does not disclose whether he believed that he would get a scholarship for playing football and thereby assisting his own education.

The record does disclose that the son had worked during the summer months and had accumulated the sum of $1,000 in savings which he intended to use as spending money while in college. This, we think, was commendable since Whitmire is a small town and jobs are probably not readily available; however, the question of whether the son intended to contribute to his own education was not thoroughly explored during the hearing. While we hold the evidence sustains the trial judge's findings of fact about the four factors specifically mentioned in Risinger, we remand for consideration of the two factors above set forth from Hughes.

The father next contends that the trial judge erred in the award of attorney's fees. We agree; there were no findings of fact made by the trial judge in accordance with Bentrim v. Bentrim, 282 S.C. 333, 318 S.E.2d 131 (Ct.App.1984). We therefore reverse and remand for the additional purpose of determining appropriate attorney's fees. Millis v. Millis, 282 S.C. 610, 320 S.E.2d 66 (Ct.App.1984).

The remaining exceptions pertaining to child support and visitation of a daughter, Nina Wagner, are moot; she is now emancipated.

For the reasons given, the appealed order is reversed in part and remanded.


CURETON, J., concurs.

GOOLSBY, J., dissents.

GOOLSBY, Judge (dissenting):

I respectfully dissent from the view taken by the majority that the evidence in this case...

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8 cases
  • McDuffie v. McDuffie
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 13 April 1992
    ...for part-time work during the school year, and obtained a $300 grant and a $2,000 loan); Wagner v. Wagner, 285 S.C. 430, 434, 329 S.E.2d 788, 790 (Ct.App.1985) (Goolsby, J., dissenting) (where a son had received two grants, had saved about $1,000, and had earned about $125 a month which he ......
  • Hickman v. Hickman
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 25 January 1988
    ...during vacation periods, and there are no findings regarding what the reasonable costs of his education will be. Wagner v. Wagner, 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 Conce......
  • Kirsch v. Kirsch
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 12 June 1989
    ...financial support for these expenses is sought. Hughes v. Hughes, 280 S.C. 388, 313 S.E.2d 32 (Ct.App.1984); Wagner v. Wagner, 285 S.C. 430, 329 S.E.2d 788 (Ct.App.1985); Nicholson v. Lewis, 295 S.C. 434, 369 S.E.2d 649 We fail to find evidence in the record to support the conclusion the so......
  • Wagner v. Wagner
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 21 May 1985
    ...adjudicated against him in a related family court action commenced after the institution of this suit. See Wagner v. Wagner, --- S.C. ---, 329 S.E.2d 788 (Ct.App.1985). In that suit, Mr. Wagner counterclaimed, alleging Mrs. Wagner had interfered with his visitation rights and engaged in a d......
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