Divorce comes with a lot of unknowns, such as who will be responsible for debts after the divorce is final. Many people who are filing for divorce in Minnesota have student loans they incurred during or prior to the marriage. Knowing how student loans are handled when marital property and debt are divided can reduce some of the anxiety that comes with divorce.

Student loans have become increasingly common. Approximately 45 million Americans have student loan debt. The average age of divorce is now 30. These factors combined mean that student loan debt frequently comes up in divorce court.

Who will be responsible for paying back the debt depends on when the loan was taken out. Debts incurred prior to the marriage are considered non-marital, and the spouse who incurred the debt in their own name must pay it back.

If the debt was incurred during the marriage, both spouses will be responsible for paying it back, especially if both names appear on the loan agreement. As long as both names are on the loan, both spouses are responsible to pay it back even after the divorce is finalized. During divorce negotiations, one spouse can sign an agreement to release the other spouse from liability.

In a community property state, debts that were incurred during the marriage will be divided evenly in divorce. Co-signers are different than spouses who incur debt during marital debt in the other spouse’s name. A co-signer is still obligated to pay the debt as agreed according to the contract they signed regardless of whether the parties are still married.

An attorney with experience handling divorce cases may help clients who are concerned about student loan payments after separation. For example, an attorney may be able to argue that a spouse should pay back debts that benefited them as an individual more than both spouses during the marriage. Judges will consider principles of equity when making rulings about debt division.