Dividing debts in divorce can be straightforward. Maybe you have joint accounts, such as a mortgage loan or a credit card account. You are both responsible for the debt, so it gets divided along with your assets. In most cases, both people will be responsible for at least a portion of the debt.
But what about something major, like student loans? This can get a lot more complicated, so it’s important to consider how they get split up.
Where are you a co-signer?
First and foremost, did you co-sign on the student loans or were they taken out in your name? For instance, maybe the loans belong to your spouse, but you co-signed for them because it made it easier for them to get those loans. If so, divorce does not end this agreement. You are still a co-signer and responsible for a portion of the loans.
When were the loans obtained?
If you’re not a co-signer, then you need to look at the date on which those loans were taken out. If your spouse took them out after the two of you were married, you likely still have an obligation to pay part of those loans. They are considered a marital debt, not a separate debt – in the same way that you have marital assets and separate assets.
However, if your spouse took those loans out before you got married and then brought that debt to the marriage, it is likely a separate debt. This means that your spouse retains all responsibility for paying it off. You would not have any obligation to pay these debts after the divorce. Technically, you would not have even had the obligation to pay them during your marriage, although most married couples will work together to pay these types of things off.
Dividing up what you owe
As you can see, the divorce process is about more than dividing assets or child custody time. Debts also have to be considered. This can have a major impact on your financial situation, so be sure you know what legal options you have.