College Expenses in Tennessee Divorce: Brinton v. Brinton

Facts: As part of his divorce settlement, Father agreed to pay for Children’s college expenses.  Son went to DePaul University in Chicago.  Daughter declined a nearly full scholarship offer from Auburn University to attend Vanderbilt University. Father felt both DePaul and Vanderbilt were unreasonable choices so he refused to pay more than $20,000 per year per child. When Mother objected, Father replied, “If you don’t like it, take me to court, see what happens to you. Take me to court. Go ahead.” Mother accepted Father’s invitation and was awarded $96,055 for principal, $28,783 for prejudgment interest, and $14,570 for attorney’s fees, for a total judgment of $139,407. Father appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court. Father argued Daughter’s decision to forgo a nearly full scholarship at Auburn to attend Vanderbilt was unreasonable. Daughter explained she chose Vanderbilt over Auburn because she wanted to attend “a really good school,” which necessarily excludes Auburn by definition (that’s my editorial comment and is not in the Court’s Opinion). A picture is worth a thousand words, however.

Beneficiaries of an Auburn Education

The Court of Appeals agreed that Daughter’s choice was reasonable. Mother was awarded her attorney’s fees on appeal.

Not that we needed it but now we have a judicial determination that Vanderbilt is superior to Auburn. Go Vandy!

Sweet Victory!

Brinton v. Brinton (Tenn. Ct. App. May 19, 2010).

Information provided by K.O. Herston, Tennessee Divorce Lawyer and PROUD Vanderbilt alumnus.

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K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

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