Student loan debt in a divorce

| Jun 24, 2019 | divorce, Firm News

When people in Kentucky get a divorce, debts that they brought into the marriage, such as student loan debt, are usually considered individual property, and the person will be solely responsible for them after divorce. However, if a person takes out student loans during the marriage, both spouses may be responsible for part of them.

In an equitable distribution state like Kentucky, a judge will consider a number of elements when deciding how much each person should pay on student loan debts. If the spouse with the debt earns significantly more than the other spouse, the lower-income spouse may owe less. A spouse who has made substantial efforts to support the other spouse while in school, including setting aside a career to do so, may also be expected to pay less or even none. On the other hand, if the student loans were used toward rent and other shared expenses instead of primarily for tuition, books and other education costs, a spouse could be held partly responsible.

A spouse who cosigns a student loan will generally be considered equally responsible for the debt. Individuals who are concerned about student loan debt may want to consult an attorney prior to filing to discuss what may happen regarding the loans.

One of the complexities of divorce with debt is that even if the couple agrees to split the debt in the divorce agreement, it can be a challenge to get an ex-spouse to pay a mortgage that is in the other spouse’s name. Creditors are also not obligated to consider divorce agreements, and they may only pursue the spouse who holds the debt. Couples may want to address this possibility during the process of property division to avoid going to court to deal with it later.