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Do courts divide student loan debt in divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2019 | Firm News

There are many assets to divide in a divorce. From child custody to alimony, most spouses know how to prepare accordingly. However, many couples overlook one important asset when heading into divorce: Debt. 

These days, many people have student loan debt. It is the most pervasive form of debt for millennials, and in a divorce, one spouse could have to help pay off the other spouse’s debt. One important court case for dividing student loan debt was in 2018. In the case, a judge ordered the husband to send the wife money every month to help pay off her student loans. There are important considerations to make with this case, such as the fact that the husband had paid off his student loans while the wife still struggled. Every divorce is different, but it is vital to prepare for the scenario where one spouse still has to help the other with debt

Consider whether the debt is separate property

In a divorce, assets become divided into two categories. There is separate property, which is anything acquired prior to the marriage, and marital property, which is anything acquired during the marriage. In the event one spouse accumulated the debt prior to the marriage, then there is a greater likelihood a judge would view it as separate property and not divide it. There is also the consideration that the spouse with student loans has greater earning potential with a college degree and should be able to pay it off independently. 

Look at other factors

A spouse may have incurred a great deal of debt, but throughout the marriage, that spouse stayed at home to raise the kids. The debt continued to accumulate interest, and now that person needs assistance with paying it off. Ultimately, a judge can look at several factors to determine an equitable division. The set precedent may not apply to everyone, so it is important for each couple to look at their scenario to determine what is fair.