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Paying off student debt after a divorce

Student debt is on the rise across the nation. With tuition costs skyrocketing for post-secondary education, many Connecticut residents have turned to student loans to allow them access to higher education. However, should a married student choose to file for divorce, the question of how that debt is to be discharged becomes somewhat more complicated.

Many people wrongly believe that a spouse is required to help shoulder the existing debt the other spouse brings into the marriage. In most states, however, debt accrued prior to the wedding day remains the sole responsibility of the individual to discharge. If an individual becomes a student before becoming a husband or wife, the debt will revert to them in case of a divorce.

However, if the educational journey begins after the honeymoon -- if the marriage certificate is signed before the loan paperwork -- the debt might be considered a shared responsibility, depending on the state in which the couple lives. Each state has its own unique set of rules to determine a course of action in this situation. It is up to both members of the divorcing couple to learn more about their own responsibilities under state law.

Divorce is a difficult enough process without worrying about how finances will be divided during the separation process. Connecticut residents considering divorce should look into their own financial situations to determine what debt will revert to them and what debt might be considered to be joint in divorce court. Knowing in advance what the overall financial picture of the divorce looks like can cut down on unpleasant surprises further into the process.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Who Is Responsible for the Student Loans After Divorce?", Charlie Wells, April 13, 2014

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