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Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Student Loans if We Get Divorced?

Posted on in Divorce

West Dundee Divorce Lawyers

Nearly 43 million Americans hold federal student loan debt, amounting to $1.59 trillion. Private student loans, although they account for a much smaller measure of overall student loan debt, add to the enormous sum of educational borrowing. 

Many young couples get married after one spouse has already taken on a substantial amount in student loans. Other couples take on the risk of student loan debt together, hoping for a brighter financial future for their family. Naturally, therefore, when people get divorced and student loans are involved, it can pose a complex financial dilemma. 

How are Assets and Debt Divided in Illinois Divorces? 

Illinois divides and distributes marital assets and debts according to the equitable distribution model. In comparison to a community property model wherein everything is divided 50/50, Illinois courts now try to divide property according to what is fair, not necessarily equal. If one spouse has a far higher future earning potential, they may receive more of the marital debt. This has implications for the division of student loan debt during divorce. 

Is Student Loan Debt Marital Debt? 

Although this seems like a straightforward question, finding the answer is not always so simple. Generally, student loan debt taken on by one spouse prior to getting married remains the responsibility of that spouse after a divorce. Student loans taken on during the marriage, even if they were only under the name of one spouse, are generally considered marital debt. 

But other factors can complicate the situation. If a valid prenup addressed the issue of student loans, one spouse may be protected from the other spouse’s student loan debt. But if the student loans financed an education that brought money into the relationship and benefitted the marriage on the whole, such as in the case of an attorney who attended law school and obtained a higher salary for several years, Illinois judges may consider the student loans to be marital debt. Couples who both lived on money from one spouse’s student loans, even if they were only in one spouse’s name, may also have the student loans divided between them. 

Meet With a Barrington, IL Divorce Lawyer

Understanding how property and debt are divided in Illinois divorces is an important first step to creating a plan for your divorce. At Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II P.C., we will answer your questions, explain potential options, and create a strategy to place you in the best possible position for a favorable outcome. Put your trust in a skilled Kane County divorce attorney with experience and statewide recognition. Call us today at 847-428-7725 to find out how we can help you. 

 

Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+V&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=6200000&SeqEnd=8675000 

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/student-loans/student-loan-debt

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