When getting divorced, a couple must split not only their shared assets but also their shared debts.
Many people today carry student loan debt for many years after completing school. When they get a divorce, they must understand how their student loans may or may not factor into their divorce settlement.
Student loan account names
U.S. News and World Report indicates that one place to start when determining liability for a student loan debt is with the account ownership. A private student loan may require a cosigner. If that cosigner is the spouse of the student, the associated debt may be deemed a marital debt subject to split in a divorce.
Use of student loan funds
Funds received from student loans may pay tuition and other direct educational expenses. They may also pay for a person’s living expenses. When a married student uses their student loan money to financially support a household that includes a spouse, the debt may be considered joint and subject to split in their divorce.
The role of the spouse
A non-student spouse may provide essential support to the student spouse to facilitate their educational efforts such as taking care of the home and any children. These scenarios may result in a court determining that the non-student spouse has essentially paid their share of the student loan debt via these efforts.
Degrees and earning power
Two other factors may contribute to whether student loan debt is considered separate or marital property. A judge may evaluate the obtainment of a degree and the respective earning power of both spouses when deciding whether or not a student loan should be repaid by one or both spouses during or after a divorce.