[290 U.S. 202, 203] Messrs. Stephen Nettles, of Greenville, S.C., and R. E. Whiting, of Columbia, S.C., for petitioner.
Mr. Thomas M. Lyles, of Spartanburg, S.C., for respondent. [290 U.S. 202, 204]
Mr. Justice BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.
On August 10, 1930, Sadie Yarborough, then sixteen years of age, was living with her maternal grandfather, R. D. Blowers, at Spartansburg, S.C. Suing by him as guardian ad litem, she brought this action in a court of that state to require her father, W. A. Yarborough, a resident of Atlanta, Ga., to make provision for her education and maintenance. She alleged 'that she is now ready for college and is without funds and, unless the defendant makes provision for her, will be denied the necessities of life and an education, and will be dependent upon the charity of others.' 1 Jurisdiction was obtained by attachment of defendant's property. Later he was served personally within South Carolina.
In bar of the action, W. A. Yarborough set up, among other defences, a judgment entered in 1929 by the superior court of Fulton county, Ga., in a suit for divorce brought by him against Sadie's mother. He alleged that by the judgment the amount thereafter to be paid by him for Sadie's education and maintenance had been determined; that the sum so fixed had been paid; and that the judgment had been fully satisfied by him. He claimed that in Georgia the judgment was conclusive of the matter here in controversy; that, having been satisfied, it relieved him, under the Georgia law, of all obligation to provide for the education and maintenance of their minor child; and that the full faith and credit clause of the Federal Constitution (art. 4, 1) required the South Carolina court to give to that judgment the same effect in this proceeding which it has, and would have, in Georgia. The trial court denied the claim; ordered W. A. Yarborough to pay to the grandfather, as trustee, $50 monthly for Sadie's education and support; and to pay [290 U.S. 202, 205] $300 as fees of her counsel. It directed that the property held under the attachment be transferred to R. D. Blowers, trustee, as security for the performance of the order. The judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. A petition for rehearing was denied, with opinion. 168 S.C. 46, 166 S.E. 877. This Court granted certiorari. 289 U.S. 718 , 53 S. Ct. 688
For some time prior to June, 1927, W. A. Yarborough, his wife, and their daughter Sadie had lived together at Atlanta, Ga., where he then was, and ever since has been, domiciled. In that month Sadie's mother left Atlanta for Hendersonville, N.C., where she remained during the summer. Sadie joined her there, after a short stay at a camp. In September, 1927, while they were at Hendersonville, W. A. Yarborough brought, in the superior court for Fulton county, at Atlanta, suit against his wife for a total divorce on the ground of mental and physical cruelty. Mrs. Yarborough filed an answer and also a cross-suit in which she prayed a total divorce, the custody of the child, and 'that provision for permanent alimony be made for the support of the respondent and the minor child above mentioned (Sadie), and for the education of said minor child.' An order, several times modified, awarded to the wife the custody of Sadie, and as temporary alimony sums 'for the support and maintenance of herself and her minor daughter Sadie.' Hearings were held from time to time at Atlanta. At some of these, Sadie (and also her grandfather) was personally present. But she was not formally made a party to the litigation; she was not served with process; and no guardian ad litem was appointed for her therein.
Then followed, after describing certain mortgages:
W. A. Yarborough complied fully with this order.
By the law of Georgia, it is the duty of the father to provide for the maintenance and education of his child until maturity. 4 Willful abandonment of a minor child, leaving it in a dependent condition, is a misdemeanor. 5 The mere loss of custody by the father does not relieve him of his obligation to provide for maintenance and education, even where the custody passes to the mother pursuant to a decree of divorce. 6 If the father fails to make such provision, any person (including a divorced wife) [290 U.S. 202, 208] who furnishes necessaries of life to his minor child may recover from him therefor, unless precluded by the terms of the decree in the divorce suit or otherwise. 7 In case of total divorce, the court is authorized to make, by its decree, final or permanent provision for the maintenance and education of children during minority, and thus fix the extent of the father's obligation. 8 But, even if the decree for total divorce fails to include a provision for the support of minor children, they cannot maintain in their own names, or by guardian ad litem, or by next friend, an independent suit for an allowance for education and maintenance. 9
First. It was contended below in the trial court, and there held, that the provision of the decree of the Georgia court directing the payment to R. D. Blowers, trustee, of [290 U.S. 202, 209] $1,750 to be 'expended by him in his discretion for the benefit of the minor child, including her education, support, maintenance, medical attention and other necessary items of expenditure,' was not intended to relieve the father from all further liability to support Sadie. This contention appears to have been abandoned. It is clear that Mrs. Yarborough, her husband, and the court intended that this provision should absolve Sadie's father from further obligation to support her. That the term 'permanent alimony' as used in the decree of the Georgia court means a final provision for the minor child is shown by both the legislation of the state and the decisions of its highest court. 10 The refusal of the South Carolina court to give the judgment effect as against Sadie is now sought to be justified on other grounds.
Second. It is contended that the order or decree providing for Sadie's permanent support is not res judicata because it did not conform to the provisions of the Georgia law. The argument is that the controlling statute required such an order to be entered after the second or final verdict; and that, since the order was entered before the second verdict and was not mentioned in it, the order was unauthorized and is void. The Georgia decisions have settled that a consent decree or order fixing permanent alimony for a minor child, at whatever stage of the divorce proceedings it may have been entered, has the same effect as if based upon, and specifically mentioned in, the second verdict of a jury;11 and that such an order, [290 U.S. 202, 210] like any other judgment, becomes unalterable after the expiration of the term. 12
Third. It is contended that the Georgia decree is not binding upon Sadie, because she was not a formal party to the suit, was not served with process, and no guardian ad litem was appointed for her therein. In Georgia, as elsewhere, a property right of a minor can ordinarily be affected by legal proceedings only if these requirements are complied with. 13 But the obligation imposed by the Georgia law upon the father to support his minor child does not vest in the child a property right. This is shown by the fact, among other things, that the minor cannot maintain in his own name, or by guardian ad litem or by next friend, a suit against his father to enforce the obligation. 14 The provision which the Georgia law makes of permanent alimony for the child during minority is a legal incident of the divorce proceeding. As that suit embraces within its scope the disposition and care of minor children, jurisdiction over the parents confers eo ipso jurisdiction over the minor's custody and support. Hence, by the Georgia law, a consent (or other) decree in a divorce suit fixing permanent alimony for a minor child is binding upon it, although the child was not served with process, was not made a formal party to the suit, and no guardian ad litem was appointed therein. 15 [290 U.S. 202, 211] Fourth. It is contended that the order for permanent alimony is not binding upon Sadie because she was not a resident of Georgia at the time it was entered. Being a minor, Sadie's domicile was Georgia, that of her father; 16 and her domicile continued to be in Georgia until entry of the judgment in question. She was not capable by her own act of changing her domicile. 17 Neither the temporary residence in North Carolina at the time the divorce suit was begun,18 nor her removal with her mother to South Carolina before entry of the judgment, effected a change of Sadie's domicile. 19 It is true that under the Georgia Code a minor may acquire a domicile apart from the father if he has 'voluntarily relinquished his parental authority.' But the mere fact that the parents were living separately at the time the suit for divorce was brought and that Sadie was with her mother does not establish such relinquishment. 20 Compare Anderson v. Watt, 138 U.S. 694, 706 , 11 S.Ct. 449. The character and extent of the father's obligation, and the status of the minor, are determined ordinarily, not by the place of the minor's residence, but by the law of the father's domicile. 21 Moreover, this is not a case where the scope of the jurisdiction acquired by the Georgia court rests upon the effectiveness of service by publication upon a nonresident. Mrs. Yarborough filed a cross-bill, as well as an answer; and in the cross-bill prayed 'that provision for permanent alimony be made for the' support and education of Sadie. Thus [290 U.S. 202, 212] the court acquired complete jurisdiction of the marriage status and, as an incident, power to finally determine the extent of her father's obligation to support his minor child. 22
Fifth. The fact that Sadie has become a resident of South Carolina does not impair the finality of the judgment. South Carolina thereby acquired the jurisdiction to determine her status and the incidents of that status. Upon residents of that state it could impose duties for her benefit. Doubtless, it might have imposed upon her grandfather who was resident there a duty to support Sadie. But the mere fact of Sadie's residence in South Carolina does not give that state the power to impose such a duty upon the father who is not a resident and who long has been domiciled in Georgia. 23 He has fulfilled the duty which he owes her by the law of his domicile and the judgment of its court. Upon that judgment he is entitled to rely. 24 It was settled by Sistare v. Sistare, 218 U.S. 1 , 30 S.Ct. 682, 28 L.R.A.(N.S.) 1068, 20 Ann.Cas. 1061, that the full faith and credit clause applies to an unalterable decree of alimony for a divorced wife. The clause [290 U.S. 202, 213] applies, likewise, to an unalterable decree of alimony for a minor child. 25 We need not consider whether South Carolina would have power to require the father, if he were domiciled there, to make further provision for the support, maintenance, or education of his daughter.
Mr. Justice STONE.
I think the judgment should be affirmed.
The divorce decree of the Georgia court purported to adjudicate finally, both for the present and for the future, the right of a minor child of the marriage to support and maintenance, by directing her father to make a lump sum payment for that purpose. More than two years later, after the minor had become a domiciled resident of South Carolina, and after the sum paid had been exhausted, a court of that state, on the basis of her need as then shown, has rendered a judgment directing further payments for her support out of property of the father in South Carolina, in addition to that already commanded by the Georgia judgment.
For present purposes we may take it that the Georgia decree, as the statutes and decisions of the state declare, is unalterable and, as pronounced, is effective to govern the rights of the parties in Georgia. But there is nothing the decree itself or in the history of the proceedings which led to it to suggest that it was rendered with any purpose or intent to regulate or control the relationship of parent and child, or the duties which flow from it, in places outside the state of Georgia where they might later come to reside. It would hardly be thought that Georgia, by judgment of its courts more than by its statutes, would attempt to regulate the relationship of parents and child domiciled outside the state at the very time the decree [290 U.S. 202, 214] was rendered, and, in the face of constitutional doubts which arise here, it is far from clear that its decree is to be interpreted as attempting to do more than to regulate that relationship while the infant continued to be domiciled within the state. But, if we are to read the decree as though it contained a clause, in terms, restricting the power of any other state in which the minor might come to reside, to make provision for her support, then, in the absence of some law of Congress requiring it, I am not persuaded that the full faith and credit clause gives sanction to such control by one state of the internal affairs of another.