What happens to my student loan debt in my divorce?
One of the major decisions in a divorce is the division of all assets and liabilities. Although it is easy to determine assets and liabilities, it becomes difficult to determine if those assets and liabilities are considered marital or non marital, as well as who receives each. One common argument is the large amounts of student loan debt that a spouse may have acquired before or during the marriage. Therefore, it is important to employ the experience and knowledge of a Tallahassee Divorce Attorney to direct you in this process and protect your rights.
The first step in determining a division of student loan debt is the classification of this debt as marital or non marital. Debts acquired during the time of the marriage are generally considered to be martial, and subject to equitable distribution. Therefore, if you took out these student loans during the time of your marriage, whether your spouse’s name is attached or not, they are likely to be considered marital debt and will be subject to distribution between the parties. The court sees this type of debt as not only funding the education of a spouse, but in many cases these loans aid in the household finances as the spouse was seeking an education. Therefore, with these funds benefiting both parties, it is likely the court will find both parties to be responsible for this debt as well.
In past cases, such as Rogers v. Rogers, 12 So. 3d 388 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009), the court of appeals found that the trial court had made a legal error when they awarded the wife sole responsibility for the student loan debt as there was clear evidence that such debt was acquired during the time of the marriage. Further, the court refuted the common argument that the husband would no longer receive such benefits of this extension of education due to the divorce and should therefore not be responsible for the debt. However, the court found this claim to hold no weight as these loans prevented the couple from extending marital funds on the education, and therefore, the loan would be distributed between the parties. Absent clear evidence that this debt was non marital property, the court is required to divide it fairly between the parties. In a similar case, Gudur v. Gudur, 2019 WL 2667431 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2019) the court held once again that student loan debt that was incurred during the marriage is a marital liability. Even if the other partner will no longer receive the benefit of this education, they did receive the benefit of the loan at the time, and therefore, is subject to the liability of this debt.
Classifying your student loan debt as marital or non marital property can be complicated, especially if you were married during the time you were receiving your education and taking out these loans. It is important to discuss these details with your Tallahassee Divorce Attorney to ensure each debt is classified properly and evidence is presented to ensure a proper equitable distribution award.
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