Assigning student loan responsibility in a divorce

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2020 | Family Law

Many people attending colleges and universities today rely on student loans to finance their educational aspirations. Once graduated, the student may spend many years repaying their debt, especially if they took out loans to fund graduate or professional programs.

When a person who still owes student loan debt gets divorced, the responsibility for that debt may remain completely with the student who took the loans out initially. It may also be shared with the spouse.

Loan timing relative to divorce

According to Student Loan Hero, the timing of when a person received student loans relative to when he or she got married may factor into determining liability for the debt post-divorce. In many situations, loans assumed prior to a marriage may be deemed the sole responsibility of the student who took out the loans. Things get less clear when an already married student applies for and receives student loans.

Use of loan funds

A person may use money received from student loans to pay tuition to a college or university. The student, however, may also use the money received to pay for basic living expenses like rent, groceries and more. These latter expenses may, therefore, support not only the student but a spouse as well.

U.S. News and World Report explains, the difference in what student loan debt pays for may well determine who must repay the debt if the couple divorces. Funds that provide assistance to the spouse of a student as well as the student may be deemed marital debt and subject to split during a divorce.

Degrees and earning potential

Other factors may contribute to deciding who must repay a student loan after a divorce. A judge may consider the earning power of both spouses and what, if any, degree the student earned.