Will My Spouse or I Be Liable for Any Individual Student Loans If We Divorce?
Figuring out asset and debt division can be complicated during divorce, especially when it comes to equitable distribution states, such as Florida. Florida tries to split up property based on what is “fair.” Adding in student loan debt is yet another issue to address, and only adds to that complication.
However, while some may assume that student loans–regardless of when they were taken out– are always the responsibility of the individual who obtained the education linked to those loans, in fact, if the student loans were taken out during the marriage as opposed to before the marriage, they are not necessarily considered to be separate property and may, in fact, end up being split with your spouse.
States that follow equitable distribution such as Florida go by what is “fair” in figuring out what should and should not be split. Specifically, they will look at a number of factors, including but not limited to the following:
How the money was used
If it was all put towards your education or if it was used to cover shared living expenses with your spouse; in which case, your spouse may be responsible for some of that debt.
What role your spouse played
If your spouse played a supporting role–such as taking care of the house while you went to school-–the courts may consider some of their portion of those dues to be paid off.
Current earning power
If your spouse makes very little, the courts are less likely to hold them responsible for a significant portion of the student loan debt.
Whether you earned a degree
In some cases, that degree is considered marital property, and the debt linked to that degree marital debt.
Whether your spouse co-signed any of the student loans
If your spouse cosigned on any of the loans, they are legally responsible for part of that debt.
Other factors the courts might take into account include whether you as a couple benefited from any tax deductions, whether the marriage itself benefited from student loans, whether you consolidated or refinanced those loans with your spouse during the marriage, whose name(s) is/are on the loans, etc.
Contact An Experienced Divorce Attorney
Ultimately, the best way to figure out how to address student loan debt is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney. They should also be able to link you to additional experts and best counsel you on student loans and how to make them manageable.
Contact our Orlando property division attorneys at Greater Orlando Family Law today to find out more about figuring out equitable distribution and student loan debt division during divorce.