Dividing Student Loan Debt During A Divorce
Making the decision to end a marriage can be complicated. When a couple marries, their lives become intertwined. This often means that financial assets and debts are viewed as joint obligations as well. However, when the decision to divorce is made a couple must tackle the tough task of separating their financial lives.
Student loan debt can play a significant role in modern divorce, so it's important that you understand how the court will go about dividing you and your spouse's student loan debt.
Determine how your state views marital property.
The first step in understanding how the court will handle your student loan debt during a divorce is identifying how your state views marital property. Some states are community property states, meaning that all assets and debts are viewed as the joint responsibility of both spouses.
Assets and debts are split 50/50 in community property states, and your student loan debt would be divided evenly between you and your spouse. If your state is an equitable distribution state, a judge will need to look at your financial lives as a whole to determine the fairest way to divide student loan debt.
Having the help of an experienced divorce attorney will allow you to better determine your state's views on marital debt.
Identify any mitigating factors.
In the event that your state is an equitable distribution state, there may be mitigating factors that can affect the decision of which spouse should be responsible for repaying student loan debt.
These situations require the judge to determine exactly what the student loans were used for. In addition to paying for tuition, fees, and books, a student loan is often used to cover living expenses as well. If one spouse benefited from another's student loans by having his or her housing, food, or transportation paid for, then that spouse could be responsible for repaying part of the debt after a divorce.
A degree is often classified as marital property because of the increased earning potential it provides, so any student loans that originated during a marriage will likely be considered a joint debt and split between both spouses when a divorce is finalized.
Navigating the complex process of dividing marital assets and debts can be overwhelming. Having an experienced divorce attorney by your side ensures that your rights will be protected throughout the process, protecting you from the undue financial hardship of repaying student loan debt alone.