It is common for at least one party in a divorce to have student loan debt, but who is responsible for the student loan debt after divorce?
There are several scenarios we need to look at:
The student loans were taken out during the divorce and all of the debt was used to pay for tuition or other schooling expenses. In this scenario, the student loan debt would likely remain the responsibility of the person that received the benefit of the education the loan paid for, even if this debt was taken out during the marriage.
The student loan was taken out during the marriage and part of the funds were used to pay household bills or expenses of the household. In this scenario, it is important to be able to track how much of the loan was used for schooling expenses and how much was used for household expenses. The portion taken out during the marriage that was used for household expenses may be taken into consideration in property division during a divorce. You would need to find expense statements from the school to find out what portion went towards schooling.
The parties took out student loan debts and co-signed for their partner's student loans (usually this happens with private student loans). Or, sometimes partners have refinanced and consolidated their student loans into one big loan. In this scenario, this debt has arguably become marital debt whether or not the co-signor received any benefit of the student loan or not. If student loans have been consolidated together, it may not matter to the Court who owed what when the debt was consolidated since both parties would usually be liable on the new big loan.
One person supports the other financially as their spouse earns a degree that may be financially lucrative. In this increasingly rare situation, one spouse may work a lower paying job to support the couple while the other attends medical school or another high paying professional program. When that partner graduates and begins earning much higher income and then attempts to divorce, the partner that had previously supported the other may be entitled to some of the interest in their spouse's new income.
If you have student loan issues and are considering divorce, it is important to know your legal rights and obligations. Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr handles cases in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and all surrounding counties, call today for a consultation. 269-381-4471