Divorce can force people to experience many difficult emotions. There is also the additional stress of dividing all of your assets and debt. When student loan debt is concerned, you might be concerned about whether you will be required to pay it off by yourself or if your spouse will ultimately be deemed partially responsible for repayment. The following will examine some important details about the role that student loan debt plays in a divorce.
The Role of Premarital Student Loan Debt
All debt that is acquired before a marriage is classified as separate property. This means that the spouse who acquired the debt will be required to pay this amount on his or her own. For example, if you accumulate $75,000 or more in student loan debt before marriage, this debt will remain yours after a divorce settlement.
Student Loan Debt Acquired during Marriage
If a debt was acquired after marriage, matters can become much more complex. Georgia follows equitable distribution laws, which means that family law courts will divide an amount in the fairest way possible. There are a variety of factors that courts analyze when deciding what constitutes fair including:
- How the money from the loan was used. If the loan was used solely for a spouse’s education, the spouse will be more likely to end up repaying the loan on his or her own. In other situations in which both spouses ended up using money from the loan, a court is likely to view the loan debt as something that should be shared between spouses.
- The role that the non-student spouse played in supporting the other spouse’s education. If the non-student spouse made substantial contributions to the student spouse’s education, a court will likely view the non-student spouse as already having made a contribution and will not split the debt between spouses.
- Whether both spouses have equal earning power. If both spouses have equal earning power, a court is more likely to view both spouses as possessing the ability to repay the debt. If the spouse who received the degree has a much higher earning power, a court is more likely to view the student loan debt as capable of being more fully repaid by the spouse with higher earning capacity.
- Whether the student spouse received a degree and began contributing to the marriage. If the student was able to contribute more to the marriage as a result of obtaining the degree, a court is more likely to split the student loan debt between both spouses.
- Whether a spouse co-signed the loan. If the non-student spouse co-signed a loan, a court will likely interpret the non-student spouse as owing part of this debt.
Because dividing student loans is often a complex undertaking, it is a wise idea to speak with a lawyer before navigating this process.
Speak With an Experienced Family Law Attorney
There are many complex issues involved with a divorce, including how student loan debt is handled. If you need the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney, do not hesitate to contact Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C. today to schedule a free initial consultation.