Alabama Supreme Court Decision Impacts Future Divorce Cases

The Alabama Supreme Court made a landmark decision in 2013 when it struck down the decades old Ex parte Bayliss ruling. This decision should have long lasting effect on future domestic relations cases in the state.  In Ex parte Bayliss, the court at the time established under what parameters a non-custodial parent could be forced to pay for the college education of his or her children after the reached the age of majority.

On its face the original Bayliss ruling seemed illogical due to the fact that all support obligations to a minor child cease upon the child reaching the age of majority, which in Alabama is 19.  Many non-custodial parents were forced to make college payments that they could not afford because it was ordered in the original divorce decree or ordered in a hearing for post minority support.

Notwithstanding the legal arguments against the Bayliss rule, there was always one common sense argument:

Many families who are intact and don’t suffer a divorce cannot afford to send their children to college.  So how can the court order you to simply because your are a divorced parent?

Chief Justice Roy Moore wrote the opinion of the Alabama Supreme Court that struck down application of Bayliss. He noted primarily that Bayliss was unconstitutional and amounted to the Court legislating law which exceeded the scope and authority of the Judicial branch.

The Court did not however make the ruling retroactive meaning it will only apply to new divorce cases only.