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Student loan debt allocation in a divorce

A person taking out a student loan does so in her or his name only, but that may not prevent the debt from being shared by the student and a spouse during a divorce.

Many factors may contribute to a court determining that both spouses must share responsibility for one person’s student loan debt when they get divorced.

Timing of the debt relative to the timing of the marriage

As explained by Student Loan Hero, one of the factors that may play into the single or joint liability determination is timing. Student loans taken out by a single person well before the marriage date may more likely be deemed sole debt. In contrast, loans taken out by one person after having gotten married may more likely be deemed joint marital debt.

Use of funds for education and living

According to U.S. News and World Report, a court may consider how a student uses loan money when determining who must repay the debt. Loan funds that went to paying a mortgage, rent or other everyday living expenses for the couple together might be identified as joint responsibility.

Professional degrees and earning power

People who attend graduate or professional school, such as medical or law schools, may incur significant debt in pursuit of their professional careers. The earning power of the professional spouse as well as the earning power of the other spouse may be investigated to help a court determine the level of benefit each person may have received from the education and, therefore, who should repay the debt after the divorce.