What happens to student debt in a divorce?

| Apr 13, 2020 | Divorce |

Given that almost 45 million people in the United States have student loan debt, there is no question that many Virginia residents are among those who are saddled with federal or private student loans. Since the average age at which a person gets a first divorce is 30, many married individuals are probably wondering how their student loans will be divided when they and their spouses separate.

Because Virginia is an equitable distribution state, the answer to the question of what happens to student loan debt in a divorce is straightforward. Unless a married couple combined their separate student debt into one loan, which was only an option for federal student loans up until 2006, a person who takes out a student loan prior to the loans incurred during the marriage may be considered joint debt/marital debt.

If a spouse incurred student debt prior to marriage and the other spouse did not co-sign the loan, the debt will be considered separate property in a divorce. This would typically be true for any debt incurred before marriage, like credit card debt.

Though student loan division is relatively simple, it is not always easy to determine how an asset or debt should be equitably divided, such as credit card debt incurred during marriage or the value of a marital property home. Since Virginia judges are not required to divide all marital property 50-50, there is no guarantee of how the property will be split. A Virginia family law attorney may help divorcing individuals try to reach a negotiated settlement without court intervention.