Division Of Student Loan Debt In A Divorce
As a general rule, debts incurred during a marriage are treated just like assets acquired during the marriage and divided equitably between the spouses in a divorce. When it comes to student loan, it may surprise spouses who are going through a divorce to learn that they may both be responsible for paying the debt back, even if only one of them used the student loan to pay for school.
Student loans incurred by a person before marriage would continue to be the sole responsibility of the spouse who took out the loan. Student loans taken out after marriage are treated as the joint responsibility of the spouses unless the spouses have an alternate agreement. While this may not seem fair to the spouse who did not get the education, there is a consideration taken for how the student loan money was used.
In dividing student loans between the spouses, the court has to look at various factors in order to decide what would be an equitable distribution of the student loan debt. If the money was used for more than strictly paying for tuition and books, and was used for the couple’s living expenses, it is more likely that a court will require both spouses to repay the student loan.
Unfortunately, a person’s future earning potential based on the education paid for through the student loan will not generally be considered as a way to offset a person’s obligation to pay for a spouse’s student loan. So if Jane and Jack are married when Jane goes to law school and incurs $200,000 in student loan debt, Jack can be required to help pay for Jane’s student loans. Jack cannot argue that he should get more of the marital property or pay less on the student loan based on the fact that Jane could become a partner at the law firm where she works and make more money in the future.
If one spouse is ordered to pay the student loan owed by the other spouse, he can do so by giving up some assets in the divorce. This way he does not actually owe a dollar amount to be paid every month as an ongoing debt.
If a person cosigns on a student loan for his spouse, the obligation to repay the loan can go beyond the divorce decree. Even if the court does not order the cosigner to pay a portion of the loan back, the loan provider can come after either spouse for the balance of the loan if the spouse responsible for paying the student loan fails to make payments.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney
If you have been served with divorce papers or are thinking of filing for divorce, you have to consider how the various assets and debts acquired during your marriage will be divided, and what factors the court will consider in making a decision. This kind of information can guide you in negotiating with your spouse to come to an agreement about these and other issues affecting your divorce. For information on how to proceed, contact an experienced Boca Raton, Florida divorce attorney at Law Offices of Schwartz l White for a consultation.