Will I be Responsible for my Ex-Spouse’s Student Loans?

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), federal student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion in the United States. Therefore, it is no surprise that many married couples—especially younger married couples—are facing repayment of student loans. While married couples often work together and combine finances in order to pay debts, student loan debt can be much more difficult to handle if you are then suddenly on your own. For this reason, many divorcing couples wonder whether they will be responsible for the student loans incurred for their ex-spouse’s education. The answer to this depends on your situation, and the following are three common scenarios.

The student loans are in one spouse’s name and incurred prior to marriage

Generally, debts that you incurred prior to marriage will be your responsibility after a marriage as well, and the same is true for your spouse. This is generally the case even if you were living together when they took out the loans (but not yet married) or if you helped cover payments during marriage.

The student loans are in one spouse’s name and incurred during marriage

Even if student loans are in one spouse’s name, debts accrued during marriage are often deemed marital debt and divided equitably. Courts, however, may find that if only one spouse benefitted from the loans, it is fair and equitable to require that spouse to solely cover payments. The division of student loans in this situation will depend on the circumstances of your particular case.

The student loans are in both spouses’ names

If the student loans are in both of your names (whether or not you were married when you incurred them), you are both technically responsible for their repayment. However, many couples agree to specify in a divorce settlement that only one spouse will be responsible for payments and the other should be indemnified from the debt.

Such an agreement may cause issues in the future, however, should your former spouse fall behind on payments or completely default on the loans. If your ex-spouse is unable to refinance the loans in only his or her name, creditors may still come after you for repayment and report negative information to the three credit bureaus. While you can sometimes challenge such reports by showing them your divorce decree, this is often a lengthy process and is not always successful.

An Experienced Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Can Help You

Student loans are only one of many debts or assets that may or may not be subject to division in a Florida divorce. It is highly important that you have the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney who can help ensure that any debt or property division is fair and in accordance with Florida property division laws. You do not want to end up being unfairly responsible for your former spouse’s debts or being held completely liable for marital debts. If you are facing divorce, please contact experienced Boca Raton attorney Alan R. Burton today to discuss your case.