Handling Student Loan Debt in a Divorce

Many people in North Carolina have significant amounts of student loan debt, even years after they graduated from college or graduate school. The costs of attending college have gone up dramatically, and student loan debt is a major issue for many people. When people decide to divorce, financial concerns can be thrown into sharp relief. After all, the financial changes caused by a divorce can linger on for a long time after the relationship issues were long since resolved. Some people may wonder about how their student loan obligations will be dealt with when their marriages end.

In most cases, people who already had student loan debt before they married will remain responsible for their own payments after they divorce as well. This type of premarital debt typically remains separate debt in a divorce. However, the question can be more complicated when the debt was acquired after the start of the marriage. In general, debt accumulated during the marriage is considered to be marital debt to be divided between the parties. Because North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, however, that does not mean that it needs to be divided equally.

Instead, there are several questions that can be considered to determine a fair distribution of the debt. If it mainly went to cover tuition, fees and books, it is more likely to be assigned to the spouse who studied. If the loans also covered the couple’s living expenses, that portion may be more likely to be split between the spouses. In addition, the earning power of both spouses would be considered, along with the length of the marriage.

When people decide to divorce, they may be uncertain about how their financial future will be affected. A family law attorney can work with a client to provide representation and advocate for a fair property division settlement.

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