As you’ve begun looking into the divorce process in Maryland, you’ve likely discovered that our state follows the equitable distribution approach to property division. In equitable distribution states, the court aims to divide a couple’s marital properly fairly, not necessarily 50/50. This approach to property division applies to debts as well as assets.
Does your spouse have significant student loan debt? If so, then you’re likely wondering if a judge will expect you to pay a portion of what they owe. How that’s likely to work is described below.
What might become of student loan debt in a divorce?
If the idea of a judge dividing assets and debts between you and your spouse equitably or fairly seems a bit hard to grasp, then you’re not alone. This concept generally boils down to that the judge presiding over your divorce is likely to ask a few different questions and weigh your responses before reaching a final decision about the most appropriate way to split assets and debts between spouses.
A few different considerations that may surface when deciding how to divide student loans include whether:
- The loans were taken out prior to or following the marriage
- You had to sacrifice your career to relocate or stay at home taking care of your children due to your spouse’s schooling
- You carried your household’s bills, or if your spouse contributed to them while enrolled in school
A judge is likely to have the student-spouse pay off their own loans if they incurred their debts prior to the marriage or if they left their spouse carrying the bulk of the household bills or childrearing duties on their own.
You may have options to consider
Coming to terms with having to give up a portion of your assets in a divorce is often a hard pill to swallow. Having to take on debt that you didn’t even incur or feel like you benefitted from takes things to a whole other level of disappointment and frustration. As with most legal matters, there are arguments that you can craft for the Court to persuade or dissuade them from making certain decisions. This might be one of them.