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No. 20374

Supreme Court of South Carolina

268 S.C. 303; 233 S.E.2d 106; 1977 S.C. LEXIS 418

March 3, 1977





J. P. Anderson, Jr., Esq., of Greenwood, for Appellant, cites: As to the ruling of the Court being without basis in law in that the Family Court Act under the authority of which the ruling was made was overridden by the Act of the General Assembly of February 6, 1975, providing that persons 18 years of age or older should be endowed with full legal capacity to the extent that the age of 21 years was replaced by age 18 years for purposes of support of dependent children and in the definition of the word "child": Section 15.1095.2 South Carolina Code of Laws; 185 S.C. 523, 194 S.E. 642; 59 Am. Jur. (2d), Parent and Child, Section 102. As to the Act of the General Assembly of South Carolina of February 6, 1975, ratifying an amendment to Article XVII of the Constitution of South Carolina relating to the legal capacity of persons 18 years and older, causing all persons 18 years and older to be sui juris and responsible for their own debts and obligations: 14 N.C. App. 49, 187 S.E. (2d) 348; 413 S.W. (2d) 887. As to Barbara A. Brown's effecting her emancipation by leaving the home of her father with the intention not to return, and as an emancipated child, [***2] she was responsible for her own bills: 59 Am. Jur. (2d) Parent and Child, Section 95, p. 194.

Respondent not represented by Counsel.


Gregory, Justice. Lewis, C.J., and Littlejohn, Ness and Rhodes, JJ., concur.




[*304] [**107] Brown appeals from an order of the family court making him pay medical expenses incurred by his daughter. At issue is whether the daughter was emancipated. Finding she was, we reverse.

Barbara Brown lived with her father near Greenwood, South Carolina, until August of 1974. Brown paid the tuition and fees for her to enroll as a boarding student at Lander College in the fall of 1974, but she dropped out before the end of the semester. She announced to her father, both orally and by letter, that she did not intend to return to his home and was going to make her own way. Brown agreed with her decision and did not attempt in any way to make her return to his home.

After living for two weeks with three other young people, she moved in with the Timmermans (an aunt and uncle), near Greenwood, South Carolina. The uncle is the respondent in this action. She worked briefly and then enrolled at Piedmont Technical College. [***3] Barbara became 18 years old in March, 1975, and incurred the medical expenses in September of 1975.

From 1970 to late 1974 Brown received $ 125.00 per month social security payments on behalf of Barbara. Barbara [*305] thereafter received these payments directly. The trial judge found that she is entitled to receive them while attending Piedmont Technical College.

Although living in close proximity, father and daughter did not see, or attempt to see, each other from the fall of 1974 until the time of the hearing in the fall of 1975.

Appellant argues that: (1) Barbara became emancipated by leaving home, he concurring, with the announced intention of not returning; and (2) he, Brown, is absolved from paying the expenses by Act Number 15 of the 1975 Acts (ratifying the constitutional amendment, Article 17, Section 14).

Emancipation of a minor child is effected primarily by agreement of the parent, although acts of the child are to be considered. Parker v. Parker, 230 S.C. 28, 94 S.E. (2d) 12 (1956); see also 59 Am. Jur. (2d), Parent and Child, 93, 95. Whether a child has been emancipated depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Parker v. Parker, [***4] supra.

We find the father and daughter in this case agreed to Barbara leaving home, and effected her complete emancipation. Therefore, Brown is not responsible for his daughter's expenses and debts. Parker v. Parker, supra.

Because of our conclusion that Barbara was emancipated, we do not reach appellant's second argument.