Please wait...

Student Loans Can Constitute Marital Debt as per NC Court of Appeals

North Carolina Court of Appeals recently cleared up a lingering issue in Family Law regarding responsibility for student loans in divorce matters.  Purvis v Purvis 2021-NCCOA-616. Filed 16 November 2021.

Eddie and Constance Purvis had been married since 1988.  During the marriage their daughter received her BA from Sweet Briar College.  To help pay for college, Eddie signed for loans amounting to just over $40,000.  At Summary Judgement, Constance claimed that NC law required that this debt be assigned to Eddie. The trial court disagreed and apportioned the student loans along with all other marital property and debt.

Constance contended that the trial court erred in classifying the student loans as marital property.  Constance argued that educational degrees are excluded from marital property for the purpose of equitable distribution by statute in North Carolina and and the trial court committed error in apportioning it.

The Court of Appeals noted that until Purvis, no North Carolina court had considered whether or not loans taken out for children's higher education costs should qualify as marital debt.  In Purvis the court distinguished between student loans taken out for one of the parties from student loans taken out on behalf of a child of the parties.

The court found that both parties agreed to acquire the debt and that the trial court properly classified the student loan debt as marital property, as the loans were obtained during the marriage for the benefit of the parties’ adult daughter.

Can't say I disagree....

Guy Vitetta

Charleston, South Carolina