Student Loan Debt and Divorce: What do You Need to Know?

According to a recent article in Business Insider, more than 44 million people in the U.S. are currently dealing with student loan debt that collectively totals about $1.5 trillion. How does student loan debt affect a couple's likelihood of divorce, and what happens to student loan debt during property division in a divorce? The Business Insider article actually reports that more millennials are citing student loans as the reason that they filed for or are considering filing for divorce.

Student Loans as a Cause for Divorce

It should not be surprising to anyone who has read about reasons for divorce to hear that financial problems are leading more millennials to file for divorce. What may be surprising to learn, however, is that a bulk of those money problems are tied to student loan debt. As the Business Insider article clarifies, disputes over finances have always had a negative imapact on marital relationships, but a new trend has emerged in student loan debt being a major point of stress and contention. A new report from Student Loan Hero suggests that around 13% of new divorcees who have student loan debt cited that debt as the reason for their divorce.

In the past decade, the total number of students who are borrowing to finance their education has increased dramatically. Moreover, the amount of money those students are borrowing has also increased. The Student Loan Hero report cites data from the class of 2017, which graduated with an average student loan debt of almost $40,000.

Why is student loan debt leading to divorce? There is more than one answer to that question, the report intimates. For some, the stress of dealing with student loan debt alone puts a strain on the marriage. This is particularly true when only one partner in the marriage is dealing with student loan debt and cannot contribute equally to the finances in the marriage. In other situations, student loan debt makes it difficult or even impossible for some people to consider buying a home or having a baby. As such, marital problems can arise. Studies have shown that about 46% of student loan borrowers at least delay starting a family due to student loan debt, while about 36% admit that they have lied to their spouse about the amount of money they owe. Around 25% of student loan borrowers lie to their spouses about owing any student loan debt at all.

Dividing Student Loan Debt in Divorce

For most people who get divorced because of student loan debt, there are other underlying problems in the marriage that tend to be exacerbated by the burden of student loans. When a couple does get divorced and one or both of the parties has student loans, who is responsible for the loans? In other words, are student loans part of the marital property that gets divided?

Generally speaking, in a Michigan divorce, any student loans borrowed prior to the marriage typically will be considered separate property and not subject to division. However, if you borrowed student loans after getting married-even if they were only for your education-it is possible that the student loans will be considered marital property and will be subject to division.

Learn More from a Michigan Divorce Lawyer

If you have questions about student loans and divorce, you should discuss your concerns with a Michigan divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information.