Bruce F. Bratton, Harrisburg, for appellant.
Jeffrey E. Piccola, Harrisburg, for appellee.
Wieand, Olszewski and Tamilia, JJ.
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Appellant/mother and appellee/father are the parents of a 19 year old son, Troy, who graduated from high school in the spring of 1987. At that time, appellee was paying $75 per week for Troy's support and $15 per week for appellant's support. On June 24, 1987, appellee petitioned the court to terminate the support Order as to Troy, alleging he
[ 382 Pa. Super. Page 471]
was 18 years old, had graduated from high school and enlisted in the army. The support Order was modified by the domestic relations office which reduced appellee's support obligation to Troy to $50 per week. Both parties appealed to the domestic relations court which entered an Order on October 20, 1987 terminating Troy's support, finding him emancipated and capable of supporting himself. That portion of the Order granting appellee/mother support in the amount of $15 per week was unappealed.
The facts are not in dispute. Troy was scheduled for induction in the United States Army in June, 1987, but developed appendicitis and was released from his commitment. Prior to June, 1987, Troy was employed at a service garage and after the army released him, he enrolled in the Automotive Techniques and Management School (ATMS) at the National Education Center. The school provides a 15-month program of vocational training in automobiles and prepares students to set up their own small businesses. The cost of the program is $15,000 and Troy and appellant were approved for $4,700 in loans and grants.
The trial court found appellee has no duty to support Troy because he is not attending a college where he will obtain a bachelor's degree and also because Troy has the ability to support himself, as evidenced by his induction in the army and his employment at the service station. Appellant appeals from this Order claiming appellee is obligated to provide support for his son even though the school he is attending is not a four-year college.
The trial court relied on Brown v. Brown, 327 Pa. Super. 51, 474 A.2d 1168 (1984), in finding "college" meant undergraduate study leading to a bachelor's degree, therefore, Troy was not entitled to support from appellee for his training at the ATMS. In Brown, however, we were reviewing the question of whether a parent was obligated to support a child who already had an undergraduate degree and was attending law school. In our decision we stated children are entitled to support for "college" under certain circumstances and in distinguishing college from law school
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or any other post-graduate school, we used the definition for college which other states have propounded, namely, "college" means undergraduate study leading to a bachelor's degree. Subsequent decisions reaffirmed this Court's intent to limit Brown to holding a child is not entitled to support for post-graduate education.
Brown does not limit the types of post-secondary education for which a parent may be compelled to provide support. Our cases do not stand for the proposition that a parent's obligation to provide education expenses is dependent on whether the child attends college or a commercial art school. Rather, the determination is to be made on the basis of whether the child possesses the aptitude and ...