Who Pays Student Loan Debt in a Florida Divorce?
In Florida, couples who decide to end their marriages must divide all of their marital assets in an equitable manner. This same rule applies to debts acquired by either party during the course of the marriage. Resolving debt division-related issues can become more complicated, however, when one of the parties has accumulated a significant amount of debt for their own schooling. For help determining whether you will be responsible for paying off some of your spouse’s student debt, please contact our property division legal team today.
Who is Responsible for Student Loan Debt?
Under Florida law, a divorcing couple must divide all of their marital assets and debts equitably upon divorce. To qualify as marital, the asset or debt in question must have been acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. Assets and debts incurred prior to the marriage, on the other hand, are considered to be separate property and will remain the sole responsibility of the person who took out the loan.
It’s important to note that student debt is not treated differently than other types of debt, which means that even though a spouse did not gain any benefit from a particular student loan, as he or she was not the one attending school, he or she could still be held responsible for paying off that loan in the event of divorce. As long as the student loan was obtained during a couple’s marriage, both parties will be required to make payments towards that loan once their marriage is dissolved.
How Much of My Former Spouse’s Student Loan Will I be Responsible for Paying?
Although student loans that are taken out during a couple’s marriage qualify as marital debt and so must be divided upon divorce, it is possible in some cases for the party who did not take out the loan to avoid paying half of the loan. If, for instance, one of the parties earns substantially less than the other and is also not the person who took out the student loan, he or she could ask the court to redistribute responsibility for paying off the loan, especially if the other party is in a better financial position to make regular payments. While this is an option, courts are not actually required to distribute debts unequally, but could be willing to take the parties’ financial situations into account.
One of the best ways to avoid paying off a former spouse’s student loans is to enter into a prenuptial agreement, in which the parties agree on responsibility for student debt and other loans incurred during the marriage in the event of divorce. However, these agreements do have limitations, making it especially important for couples who are planning on getting married and are have questions about their potential student debt, to speak with an attorney before entering into a legal contract.
Schedule an Appointment with an Experienced Property Division Lawyer
If you are going through a divorce and have questions about how your marital debts will be divided, please call Fort Lauderdale property division attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today.