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Are Student Loans a Marital Debt During Divorce?Student loans are among the largest debts that many Americans have and can be difficult to get rid of. Even bankruptcy is unlikely to discharge your student loans. When you are married, your spouse can help you keep up with your bills or even cosign on your student loan agreement. However, what happens to your student loan debts during your divorce? In Illinois, divorcing spouses equitably divide their marital debts. There are five important questions that determine whether student loan debts qualify as marital debts and how they will be divided during your divorce:

  1. When Were the Student Loan Debts Created?: The primary difference between marital and nonmarital debts is whether you entered the debt while you were married. If you took out a student loan while you were married, you will likely classify it as a marital debt. If your student loans originated before your marriage, they are likely a nonmarital debt that you are solely responsible for. 
  2. Whose Name Is on the Contract?: From the creditor’s perspective, the people responsible for your student loans are the ones whose names are on the student loan agreement. The creditor may require your spouse to cosign on the agreement if you take out a student loan or refinance a premarital student loan agreement while married. If your spouse’s name is not on the agreement, you can negotiate for them to help repay your student loans as part of your divorce, but the creditor will hold you responsible if your spouse does not follow through.
  3. What Does Your Prenup Say?: A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can decide how you will divide debts during divorce, including your student loans. If you have a prenuptial agreement, it may state that you will be solely responsible for your own student loan debts or that your spouse will help pay your nonmarital student loans.
  4. Do You Both Have Student Loans?: An equitable division of debt means it must be fair given the circumstances and not necessarily equal. If you both incurred student loan debts of similar value during your marriage, you can agree to each be responsible for your own student loans.
  5. How Was the Money Used?: It may also be equitable for a spouse to be responsible for their own student loans if all of the money went towards paying for their education and benefiting their career. However, spouses sometimes use student loan money to pay for marital expenses, which may mean it is fair for both spouses to share the debt.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

Your marital debts are part of a larger financial picture in your divorce, including how you will divide your marital properties. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can help you create a strategy for financial success in your divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Stress from Student Loan Debt Can Lead to DivorceA recent report by the website Student Loan Hero claims that student loan debt is contributing to couples’ decisions to divorce and affecting when they divorce. In a survey of more than 800 divorced adults:

  • 13 percent of the respondents blamed student loans for their divorces;
  • 35 percent of the respondents with student loan debts said that the debt caused them to delay their divorces because they could not afford the process; and
  • 58 percent of divorcees with student debts had to take on additional debt to pay for their divorces.

With the cost of higher education increasing, student loan debts are likely to continue to be a problem for people during their marriages and divorces.

Student Debt Leading to Divorce

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