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Divorce and debt: When did you take out your student loans?

During a divorce, property division extends beyond assets that you own. It also means dividing debt.

Some couples choose to pay off all of their debt when they split up -- this is one reason why you see many couples sell their homes during divorce -- so that they don't have any to worry about. Others split up the debt that they have and each person accepts some of the financial responsibility.

For many young people, one of the largest types of debt that they face is their student loans. If you're wondering how they get divided in a divorce, it really depends, in most cases, on when you took them out.

Were you already married when you applied for the loans? Did you take them out together? If so, they probably count as marital debt that you are both responsible for.

Were you just dating when you took them out -- or had you not even met yet? Did you do it alone? If so, then they are most likely your debt alone. They're separate property, just like assets you owned before the marriage.

There are exceptions to the rule. Maybe you have a prenup that changes the way that the two of you look at your student loan debt, for instance. But this is how it works in most cases.

As you can see, it is very important to think about your debt when you and your spouse decide to split up. Make sure you know what obligations you have, what rights you have and what steps you need to take as you divide up what you owe.


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