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What to do about student loans in divorce

During the recession, and for a number of years after it, divorce disputes may not have always centered on dividing property or assets. Rather, they had to deal with how parties would pay off debt accumulated during the marriage. Some of this debt was attributable to credit cards as couples struggled to make ends meet after a job loss or injury.

However, student loan debt became prominent as some people decided to go back to school to develop different talents that could take them to a different industry. For potential divorcees, it is important to know how student loan debt may be allocated.

Essentially, student loan debt that was taken out before the marriage may be considered separate property, even though it may have accumulated during the marriage. Conversely, debt that was taken out during the marriage could be considered marital property.

With that said, family court judges have considerable discretion in determining who is going to be responsible for paying off student loan debt. There are a number of factors that a court can consider in order to allocate debt payments; including how much debt is involved, how other assets have been divided, and a person’s ability to pay.

This means that the person ultimately responsible for paying on the debt may not be the one who had been making payments during the marriage. Because of this, it is important for potential divorcees to take time to discuss with an experienced family law attorney their plans, as well as their ability, to pay their student loans.

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