What becomes of your student loans when you divorce?

There’s a lot that may keep divorcing spouses up at night. One factor is property division. While many husbands and wives understand that they’ll ultimately have to split up assets like cars, bank accounts and the marital home, few realize that they also have to divvy up their debts.

Your costly student loan debts are one of these. 

Indiana’s approach to property division in a divorce

Like many other states, Indiana subscribes to the equitable distribution doctrine, which requires family law judges to split up any assets or debts fairly — not necessarily equally.

So, who ends up paying the student loan debt?

The family law judge presiding over your case will likely inquire about when either one of you took out your student loans, and more specifically, whether it happened before or after your marriage. They’ll probably earmark any student loan debt that you racked up before your marriage as your sole liability.

They may require both of you to pay off any student loans that either you or your spouse took following your wedding, though. The court often has you both pay off the loan because they associate a spouse’s completion of an academic program with better job prospects. They see that as financially benefiting both you and your spouse. 

There are, of course, exceptions to the rules, which can make this a very hard-fought issue. (If, for example, you believe your spouse took excess student loans and frittered the money away on luxuries, that could make a compelling argument that you shouldn’t have to help repay them.)

Addressing property division matters in your case

There are instances in which spouses find themselves unable to work while their husband or wife pursues an advanced education. This factor is one of many that may warrant a spouse contesting having to pay any portion of their ex’s student loan debt. 

You may find it helpful to consult with a divorce attorney in a situation such as this. Your St. John lawyer will want to learn more about your assets and liabilities before advising you how to best split them up in your Indiana case. 

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