Student loans becoming a bigger issue in divorce

On behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA posted in Divorce on Friday, April 18, 2014.

People in Maryland know that there are a lot of different financial factors that go into a divorce settlement. Property division is a complicated divorce legal issue, as couples have to be concerned about what they will walk away with after their marital separation is complete. In the big picture, marital property includes essentially everything that was acquired during the course of the marriage, including real estate, cars, property, savings and investment accounts and even student loan debt.

Student loans are becoming the norm for most college graduates these days, as education and the prospect of a better career come at no small cost. In 2012, the average college graduate owed about $30,000 in student loan debt, and paying this debt off can be a daunting task. For that reason, more and more couples divorce while still owing debt on their student loans.

If a divorcing couple has debt from student loans, there are a number of factors that determine who is responsible for the debt after a divorce. In general, if a single person took out a student loan debt before marriage, that individual is responsible for paying off the loan after a divorce. However, if a student loan is taken out after a couple has been married, the person whose name is on the loan may not necessarily be fully responsible for paying off that loan. In many states, educational debt from a loan that is taken out during a marriage is "marital property."

In some cases, such as when one spouse earns considerably more money than the spouse with student loan debt, the spouse with the higher salary may have to provide temporary spousal support payments if the individual with the debt has a hard time making payments.

The way student loan debt is handled during divorce depends on each couple's unique situation. Student loan debt should not be overlooked during the divorce process, and a divorce attorney will be able to answer any questions a couple may have.

Source: Wall Street Journal "Who Is Responsible for the Student Loans After Divorce?" Charlie Wells, April 13, 2014