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Will divorce leave you paying your spouse's student loan?

As you and your spouse prepare to divorce, you undoubtedly have many decisions to make. Whether you are settling your issues out of court or going through the litigation process, you want to make sure you get your fair share of assets to ensure you will not struggle financially in your post-divorce life. In addition to your assets, however, don't overlook your marital debt.

No matter which of you acquired the debts, the courts often assume the debt belongs to both of you, especially charges on a joint credit card or a loan signed by both spouses. However, you may have questions about your student loans.

When is a student loan marital property?

Minnesota, like many other states, considers the assets you obtain during your marriage as belonging to both you and your spouse. Your income, your spouse's income, and property or valuables you purchase, these are marital assets that you will split in the most equitable manner possible during your divorce. The same is true for your debts. Therefore, if your spouse took out a student loan prior to getting married, the court will likely consider it separate debt.

What if your spouse incurred an educational debt during the marriage? Is there a chance you will end up paying off that loan? Here are some things the court will consider when dividing that debt:

  • Did you use the money only for your spouse's education, or did it contribute to your joint living expenses?
  • How much support did you give your spouse, financial and otherwise, so that he or she could complete his or her education?
  • Have you already contributed financially to repaying the loan while expecting your spouse would subsequently help pay down your own educational debt?
  • Did your spouse earn a degree that significantly improved your standard of living during the marriage?
  • Does your spouse now earn considerably more money than you?
  • Did you co-sign the loan?
  • Did you and your spouse consolidate your student loans into one?

All of these and other questions will factor into deciding whether your division of marital debt will include your spouse's student loans. Whether you are using an alternative dispute resolution process or facing a judge for a divorce order, having a skilled attorney to advocate for you can go a long way in obtaining a fair and equitable division of both assets and debts during your divorce.

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