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How student loan debt affects marriages and divorces

Tue 7 Aug, 2018 / by / Divorce

The average borrower in Illinois with student loan debt could owe nearly $40,000, a figure that is significantly higher than what was common a decade ago. The number of borrowers owing more than $50,000 has spiked as well. Results from a study conducted by an education loan website show that most borrowers believe money issues contributed to their divorce. Specifically, 13 percent of respondents link student loan debt to their failed marriage.

The majority of borrowers in a different study reported fighting with their partners about money “somewhat often.” Twenty-four percent of the respondents admitted to keeping information about student loan debts from their significant others. Nearly 20 percent felt it was acceptable to lie about money to their spouses. In some cases, it’s failing to be open about any type of debt that further contributes to the stress that may lead to divorce or separation.

Ending a marriage when there is student loan debt involved sometimes results in even more debt due to the additional costs associated with the divorce process. Divorce-related expenses can sometimes total almost $20,000, especially when legal fees, court costs and funds that may need to be set aside for alimony or child support are factored into the equation. Divorced individuals with student debt may pay as much as $2,000 more than their counterparts without any college-related debt do.

Millennial couples, in particular, tend to bring student debt into a marriage. During property division, debt from student loans usually remains the responsibility of the party that took it out in the first place if it was obtained before the marriage. If one or both partners took out a student loan during the marriage, a lawyer may look at who benefited most from those funds and whether both parties signed the loan to determine what kind of recommendations to make.