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What happens with student debt in divorce?

Property is not the only thing of great financial impact that is divided in divorce. Responsibility for paying the debts a married couple has acquired can also end up being split.

Among the loans many individuals here in America take on are those connected to paying for the costs related to college or graduate school. So, it isn’t at all uncommon for a couple to be going into a divorce with a fair amount of student debt. When this happens, one thing a person may be very concerned about is who will be deemed to be responsible for these financial obligations moving forward.

Today, we’ll go over some of the basics of how student loans are handled in divorce.

One big factor is whether the debt is deemed to be separate or marital. Separate ones remain with the spouse who initially obtained them and are not split. Meanwhile, marital ones are subject to division.

Generally, student loans acquired prior to a marriage are considered separate. Meanwhile, those acquired during a marriage are typically deemed marital. As a note, there are factors beyond when debt was obtained that can impact classification. This includes what any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement the couple formed says about how student loans are to be treated in the event of divorce.

When a given student debt is considered marital, how is it divided? It depends on the situation. As is the case with marital property, under Virginia divorce law, marital debts are to be split in a way that is fair and equitable. What would constitute a “fair” division can be affected by a wide range of factors, including the circumstances surrounding a loan, the financial situation of the two spouses and what roles each spouse held during the marriage. So, a lot of different things can influence student debt division issues in a divorce here in Virginia.

Also, as a note, what a court or settlement agreement establishes on how responsibility student loans will be divided in a divorce will not necessarily impact who creditors will (and won’t) go after in the event that payments are missed.

As this discussion underscores, in addition to being very impactful, the division of student debt in a divorce is also a very complex issue. It can be wise for individuals to have experienced legal guidance on their side when navigating such matters.

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