Heard in the Court of Appeals February 17, 2015
This Decision is not final until expiration of the twenty-one day rehearing period. [North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure 32(b)]
Catawba County, No. 11 CVD 1119.
Wesley E. Starnes, for plaintiff-appellee.
W. Wallace Respess, Jr., for defendant-appellant.
CALABRIA, Judge. Judges McCULLOUGH and DIETZ concur.
Appeal by defendant from order entered 5 May 2014 by Judge Amy Sigmon Walker in Catawba County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 17 February 2015.
Michael Thomas Warren (" defendant" ) appeals from an order classifying the student loans of Mary McDonald Warren (" plaintiff" ) as marital debt. We affirm.
Plaintiff and defendant (collectively, " the parties" ) were married on 4 July 2000, and lived together as husband and wife until they separated on 26 March 2011. The trial court granted the parties an absolute divorce on 2 May 2013. There were two children born of the marriage who lived with the parties. Plaintiff has two other children from a previous marriage who also lived with the parties during the marriage.
Plaintiff worked as a teacher when the parties first married. The parties agreed that plaintiff would stop working so she could take care of the home while the children were young. When the children grew older, the parties agreed that plaintiff would return to school to earn a degree so she could increase her income for the benefit of the family. In the fall of 2006, plaintiff enrolled at Lenoir-Rhyne University (" Lenoir-Rhyne" ), where her tuition totaled $31,665.00. While in school, plaintiff incurred student loans for a total of $88,429.08. The funds from the student loans not only paid her tuition, textbooks, and school supplies, but also paid the family's living expenses. Although plaintiff deposited the student loan funds into her own separate account, both parties had separate checking accounts in their own names and both paid family expenses. Plaintiff graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne in the spring of 2009 with a Master's of Science in occupational therapy.
After plaintiff graduated in 2009, she secured employment as an occupational therapist, initially earning $34.08 per hour. She worked approximately thirty hours a week, earning a weekly income of around $1,224.00. In January of 2010 she began working as a contract occupational therapist, earning ...