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Who is Responsible for Student Loan Debt in New York Divorce Proceedings?

If you and your spouse are planning on getting a divorce, you might have a lot of things on your mind. For one thing, you might be thinking about all of the debts that the two of you have, and you could be wondering who will end up being responsible for paying all of these debts. Of course, this depends on a variety of things, including the type of debt.
For many couples, student loan debt is a major concern. After all, tons of students graduate with a lot of student loan debt and find themselves paying on it for 10 years or more. This means that there is a good chance that you or your spouse, if not both of you, have student loan debt that is going to need to be settled somehow. If you’re concerned about how this will be handled in your divorce, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer to get individualized advice that is tailored to your situation.

Was the Student Loan Debt Incurred Before You Got Married?

First of all, you have to think about when the student loan debt was actually incurred. Many couples get married after they graduate from college. In these situations, the student loan debt might have been incurred before the two of you were actually married. If this is the case, then you should know that one spouse is not usually required to be responsible for the other spouse’s student loan debt. Therefore, if you had student loan debt of your own when you got married and if your spouse also had student loan debt when the two of you said “I do,” then you will more than likely both be responsible for your own student loan debt. These cases are usually quite simple to straighten out in mediation or divorce court, since you’ll both simply walk away with whatever remains from the debt that you had when you got married.

Was the Student Loan Debt Incurred After You Got Married?

Unfortunately, not all cases related to student loan debt are quite as simple as what is outlined above. Many couples marry while they are young, meaning that they might incur their student loan debt while they are married. Other individuals choose to go back to school later on in life, such as if they want to go to college for the first time as an adult, if they want to change careers and need to secure a new degree or if they want to further their education, such as by earning a Master’s degree. If this is the case in your marriage, then you should know that determining who will be responsible for the student loan debt may not be quite so clear.
In the past, in New York State, student loan debt was considered to be subject to equitable distribution. However, New York Domestic Relations laws have been updated in the past few years, and now this is not quite so clear. This means that student loan debt is not looked at and handled in the same way in every divorce case. Instead, the judge will look at things in a fact-based manner when determining who will be responsible for repaying the debt.
For example, the judge might look at what, exactly, the student loan funds were used to pay for. Of course, they are generally used to pay for tuition and books, but many people get the proceeds in the form of a check that they can spend on anything. Some households use their student loan money to pay household bills or to otherwise keep the household afloat. This is something that the judge will look at.
He or she will also determine things like whether or not the money was borrowed so that the individual could work and provide a better life for the entire family and whether or not the person who did not incur the debt provided their own support toward the person who was incurring the debt.
As you can probably see, these matters can be quite complicated. Therefore, there is really no “one size fits all” answer or solution. Instead, you should consider talking to an attorney who can look at your specific case.
In any divorce, handling the financial aspect of things can be challenging. It can be hard for couples who are divorcing to come to an agreement in regards to things like who will be responsible for which debts. With many people having student loan debt in today’s world, it certainly makes sense that this topic would come up during mediation or in a divorce trial. If you, your spouse or both of you have student loan debt and if you are going through a divorce, you could be wondering how the debt will be handled in your divorce. If you meet with an experienced divorce attorney, you can get individualized advice and assistance with your divorce case.

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