Church v. Church

Annotate this Case

Church v. Church
1982 OK 147
657 P.2d 151
Case Number: 57379
Decided: 12/14/1982
Supreme Court of Oklahoma


Appeal from the District Court, McIntosh County; J.M. LeMasters, Jr., Judge.

¶0 In a post-divorce proceeding by non-custodial parent to terminate his child support obligation upon minor child's emancipation by marriage, the trial court ruled the non-custodial parent was released from financial responsibility.


Kenneth W. Lackey, Eufaula, for appellee.

W.R. Burnham, Eufaula, for appellant.

OPALA, Justice:

[657 P.2d 152]

¶1 The issue presented by this appeal is whether a decree-imposed support obligation of a non-custodial father is terminable upon the marriage of his 16-year-old son who is attending high school. We answer in the negative.

¶2 Custody of the minor son of the parties was reposed by the divorce decree in the mother; the father was ordered to pay support during the child's minority. Upon the son's marriage at the age of 16, the father sought judicial termination of his financial obligation. The sole issue before the trial court was whether the father's decree-imposed obligation stood terminated ex lege upon the son's marriage. The record is undisputed that the son (1) is a full-time student in high school and (2) is unable to support himself. The mother is the sole provider for both him and his wife. The trial court ruled that the minor became emancipated upon his marriage

¶3 By the terms of 12 O.S. 1981 § 1277 a minor child of divorced parents is entitled to support during his minority. If such dependent child is regularly and continuously attending high school, the parents' obligation continues through the age of eighteen.

¶4 The court's power to make provision for the support and education of a minor child of divorced parents stands statutorily extended beyond the time of emancipation ex lege. Legislative authority to impose the obligation past the age of majority is clear.

[657 P.2d 153]

¶5 The wording of § 1277 is clear. The obligation it creates extends to "any [dependent] child . . . regularly and continuously attending high school."

¶6 The order of the district court is therefore reversed.


¶8 IRWIN, C.J., BARNES, V.C.J., and SIMMS, J., dissent.


1 The terms of 10 O.S. 1981 § 10 provide in pertinent part: "The authority of a parent ceases: * * * Upon the marriage of the child * * ".

2 The terms of 12 O.S. 1981 § 1277 provide:

"Any child shall be entitled to support by the parents until the child reaches eighteen (18) years of age. If a dependent child is regularly and continuously attending high school, said child shall be entitled to support by the parents through the age of eighteen (18) years." [Emphasis added].

3 Warren v. Hunter, Okl., 632 P.2d 418, 419 [1981].

4 Galloway v. Galloway, Okl., 600 P.2d 321, 323 [1979]; Irby v. Martin, Okl., 500 P.2d 278, 280 [1972].

5 The location of a statute in the compilation does not generally limit the meaning, force and effect of its provisions. McCracken v. City of Lawton, Okl., 648 P.2d 18, 20 [1982]; WRG Construction Co. v. Hoebel, Okl., 600 P.2d 334, 336 [1979]; Green v. Green, Okl., 309 P.2d 276, 278 [1957].

6 12 O.S. 1981 § 1277 .

7 Independent School District # 89 of Oklahoma County v. Oklahoma City Federation of Teachers, Okl., 612 P.2d 719, 724 [1980].