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Student loans during a divorce: Separate or joint?

Student loan debt is a significant financial issue for many people in Minnesota, one reason why it has become a major part of the national political debates. When people decide to divorce, they may face additional financial stress, especially as these effects of the end of a marriage may resonate long after the emotional matters have been handled. People struggling with loan debt may wonder how a divorce might affect their obligations to pay their student loans.

In general, people who went to school and accumulated their student loan debt before marriage will also walk away from the marriage with the outstanding balance of their loans. Like other premarital debts and assets, student loan debt belongs to the person who brought it to the marriage. However, the situation can be more complex when people obtain new student loan debt after they are already married. In general, debts acquired during the marriage are considered part of the marital estate and eligible for property division. Because Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, the marital property is not necessarily split in half to be divided between the parties. Instead, the courts aim to achieve a fair outcome on a case-by-case basis.

There are a number of factors that may be considered in determining the division of student loan debt in a divorce. If the loans went primarily to pay for tuition and fees, they are likely to be assigned to the student. However, if they also covered housing and living expenses for both partners, the loan debt is more likely to be shared.

Student loans are only one of the complex financial issues at play during a divorce. A family law attorney can work with a divorcing spouse to advocate for a fair settlement of a range of divorce legal issues, including property division.

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