Kilgrow v. Kilgrow
107 So.2d 885 (Ala. 1958)

Facts:

  • Jack and Christine were married with a 7-year-old daughter named Margaret.
  • The dispute between the parents grew out of the fact that the father and mother were of different religious faiths – Jack wanted Margaret to continue going to school at Loretta, which is of his religious faith, while the mother wanted her to attend a public school.
  • Jack then filed a petition against is wife, seeking an injunction restraining her from interfering with Margaret going to Loretta.

History:
The trial court ordered that:

  1. It is for the best welfare of the child, Margaret Kilgrow, that she continue her studies where her father has placed her, in Loretta School; and
  2. Mrs. Christine B. Kilgrow  is enjoined and restrained from interfering with the schooling of the said child at Loretta School, and that said child continue her schooling there until and unless this order be changed in proper proceedings.

Issue:
Whether a court of equity has inherent jurisdiction (there being no statute involved) to resolve a family dispute between parents as to the school their minor child should attend, when there is no question concerning the custody of the child incident to a separation (either voluntary or pursuant to a court order) or divorce of the parents, and to enforce its decision against one of the parents by injunction.

Holding:
No. Case reversed.

Reasoning:

  • The court noted that there was an absence of law on the issue, therefore indicating a reluctance of the courts to assume jurisdiction in disputes concerning the upbringing of children.
    • “Never has the court put itself in the place of the parents and interposed its judgment as to the course which otherwise amicable parents should pursue in discharging their parental duty.”
  • “We do not think a court of equity should undertake to settle a dispute between parents as to what is best for their minor child when there is no question concerning the child’s custody.”

Rule: A court of equity should not undertake to settle a dispute between parents as to what is best for their minor child when there is no question concerning the child’s custody.