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How will divorce affect your student loans?

Typically, in a divorce, the court will divide debts the same way it divides assets. However, the court may look at your student loan debt a bit differently.

U.S. News and World Report explains that the court will generally consider it as your debt alone if you incurred it prior to the marriage and marital debt if you incurred it during the marriage. There are some situations, though, where the court may make a decision that is outside these perimeters.

Separate property

The court generally does not make student loan debt incurred prior to marriage into marital debt. So, if your situation includes this type of debt, you can expect to retain the complete debt.

Marital property

The issues may come up when you incurred the debt during your marriage. The court will have to consider how you used the money. If you used it all for school costs, then the court will generally assign the debt all to you. However, if you used some of the money to pay for living costs, then the court may split the debt as marital property.

The court will also consider if your spouse supported you financially while you were in school. If he or she did, then you will probably end up with the full debt.

In addition, the court will look at earning power. If your spouse makes less than you or is in a less secure financial situation, then the court will typically not make him or her responsible for your student loans.

Do note that if your spouse co-signed on student loans, he or she retains legal responsibility regardless of what the court rules because the court cannot overrule the contract agreement you and your spouse made with the lender.