Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Sept. T., 1965, No. F-11-157, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Eulalia R. Hanerkam v. Joseph L. Hanerkam.
Percy H. Sand, with him Sand, Gibbs & Smilk, for appellant.
Vincent J. LaBrasca, with him Francis T. Sbandi, and Fronefield, deFuria and Petrikin, for appellee.
Wright, P. J. Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone and Packel, JJ. Opinion by Packel, J.
[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 183]
A father appeals from the order of the court below requiring him to continue weekly support payments of $27.50 for an 18 year old daughter while she is attending college. No appeal was taken from the additional order to pay his wife for her support the weekly sum of $27.50. His weekly income at the time of the hearing was $96.
The parties were married in July of 1952. One child, Marie, was born to them on June 30, 1953. In July of 1965 they separated, and since that time the child has resided continuously with her mother.*fn1 Marie was graduated from high school and became 18 years of age in June of 1971. Appellee testified at the hearing that her daughter was enrolled for the fall term at Community College and that her expenses would be $212. per semester for tuition and $50. to $60. for books.
During the last decade our courts have evidenced an increasing awareness of the vital importance of a college degree in the modern highly competitive, industrialized society. This development was foreshadowed as long ago as 1929 in Commonwealth v. Gilmore, 97 Pa. Superior Ct. 303, 310, 312 (1929), where this Court held that a father may be required to furnish an education beyond the minimum required by law for a child over sixteen years of age: "It must thus appear that in this city and generation the law does recognize a legal duty upon the part of every father to give to his minor children an education, beyond the minimum required by law, in the public schools provided by the Commonwealth which reasonably accords to the father's
[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 184]
financial ability and position in life and the child's ability, progress and prospects . . . . In a republic where every adult citizen has a share in public affairs, it becomes essential for the preservation of the State and the happiness of the people, that the citizens be acquainted with public affairs and be intelligent and to that end be educated to the highest extent possible."
Initially our courts imposed the duty to contribute toward the college education of a child who has reached 18 years of age only in cases involving a specific agreement by the father to furnish such education.*fn2 In Commonwealth ex rel. Ulmer v. Sommerville, 200 Pa. Superior Ct. 640, 644, 190 A.2d 182, 184 (1963), however, our Court departed from that position and held that a father may be obliged to provide such support in the absence of any agreement if (1) the child is able and willing to pursue his course of studies successfully and (2) the father has sufficient estate, earning capacity or income to enable him to pay the order without undue hardship, and in that regard stated: "We are not suggesting that a father should be required to support a child in college only when the father's income or estate is such that he could do so without making any personal sacrifices. Most parents who send a child to college sacrifice to do so. No mathematical rule can be formulated to determine how extensive the hardship upon a father must be before it will excuse him from supporting a child in college. It must be a
[ 221 Pa. Super. Page 185]
matter of judgment in a field where the judgments of sincere and ...