Dividing Student Loans During a Florida Divorce
Obtaining higher education has become increasingly expensive in recent years. Unfortunately, this means that more and more people are saddled with expensive loans, which can have dramatic consequences for couples, especially in divorce. Like marital assets, these debts must be divided upon divorce, which can be complicated, so if you are ending your marriage and have questions about who will be held responsible for a student debt, it is important to contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale property division attorney who can ensure that you are not forced to pay off debts for which you were not responsible.
Fair Division of Assets and Debts
Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that all of a couple’s marital assets must be divided fairly upon divorce. This equitable division standard is, however, not only applicable to assets, but also to a couple’s debts. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all assets and debts will need to be divided equally. Instead, couples must work to find a solution that is deemed fair to both partner’s interests. This rule does, however, only apply to marital property, or assets and debts that were acquired after the marriage.
Marital Student Debt
Only student loans that qualify as marital debt must be divided in the event of a divorce. Assets or debts that were acquired or accrued before marriage, on the other hand, will be deemed separate property and will remain the sole responsibility of the person who took out the debt. This makes determining whether a student loan qualifies as a marital or separate debt extremely important to the property division process. When making these decisions, courts look to a variety of factors, including not only whether the loan was obtained before or after the marriage, but also:
- Whether there is prenuptial agreement in place;
- How long the marriage lasted after the loan was taken out; and
- Whether the student loan helped improve the couple’s financial prospects.
These cases are often complicated, as some factors may weigh in favor of the division of marital debt, while others may indicate that saddling both parties’ with responsibility for a debt is unfair. Ultimately, what is decided in a couple’s case will depend largely on the parties’ specific circumstances. If, for instance, a debt was acquired many years before the marriage, the marriage was short-lived, and the student loan didn’t improve the couple’s financial prospects, then it is more likely that a court will leave paying off the remainder of the debt to the person who acquired it. If, on the other hand, a student loan was taken out by one spouse after a marriage and the schooling it paid for was crucial to the couple’s income, then it is more likely that a court will require both parties to bear some of the responsibility for paying it off, even after divorce.
Set Up a Free Case Review
To learn more about coming to a property division agreement with a soon-to-be former spouse regarding student loans, please call experienced Fort Lauderdale property division lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. We can be reached at 954-945-7591 or via online message.