Who Pays the Student Loan after Divorce?

This will likely not come as a surprise; I am a family law attorney and as a lawyer I attended law school… and piled on plenty of student loan debt to do so. But you don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that more and more students are graduating under enormous financial burdens associated with having put themselves through school. Gone are the days of summer jobs to finance a college tuition. With steadily increasing rates of higher level education attendance student loans become a key component in asset and debt division for many clients.


Separate or Community? The first step in analyzing who is responsible for paying for the student loan debt upon divorce is to look at when the debts were accrued. Washington is a community property state, which means that assets (and debts, like student loans) obtained during the marriage are community property. On the other hand, student loans debt that was accrued before the marriage remains separate property.


Married a Student? Community property student loan debts are where issues can get complicated. Depending on who paid, and who is reaping the benefits of that degree the court may order either or both parties to be responsible. On the other hand, if a spouse has paid significantly for these debts but not reaped any benefit from them they may also be entitled to reimbursement for their payments. It is best to address your specific situation with an experienced family law attorney.


Co-signed? If you co-signed on your ex-spouse’s student loan then you are also responsible for the payment of those debts regardless of when the loans were obtained. It is particularly important to address these issues in your divorce proceeding as your ex-spouse’s failure to pay on a student loan to which you have co-signed may affect your credit unless action is taken to prevent this.

We understand that divorce can be a harrowing experience emotionally, physically and logistically, which is why we have lawyers here to help. Having an experienced divorce lawyer can make all the difference to your process. Because we focus solely on family law, we understand the dynamics and can help guide you through your divorce. Please contact Elise Buie Family Law Group, PLLC for a free consultation regarding your divorce. For more information about collaborative divorce or mediation please visit our website. 

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