According to the Pew Research Center, Americans now hold nearly $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. With educational costs rising and more and more people going back to school later in life, student loan debt has become an important issue in a greater number of Texas divorces. This raises an important question: Can you be held responsible for a spouse’s student loan debt in Texas? Here, our Texas property division lawyers explain what you need to know about dividing student loan debt in divorce.
Community Property and Student Debt
As a starting point, it is crucial you understand how property and debt are split in divorces in Texas. The Texas State Law Library notes Texas is one of just nine community property jurisdictions in the United States.
Under community property rules, assets — and debts — acquired during marriage are generally owned jointly by both spouses. In contrast, property acquired prior to the start of a marriage will typically be separate property. Should a relationship end in divorce, marital property/debts will be divided in a 50-50 manner, whereas separate property/debt will not be divided.
What does this mean for student loans? With some limited exceptions, student loans that were incurred before a marriage started are presumed to be separate property. Each partner will be responsible for their own debts. However, student loans that were incurred during the marriage are presumed to be joint property. As with other marital debt, it will be divided in a just and equitable manner.
Debt Division is Complicated: There are Exceptions
On the surface, dividing student loan debt in divorce sounds like a straightforward process: each partner is individually responsible for their pre-existing student loan debt and both partners are responsible for any post-marriage student loan debt. However, the reality may be more complicated than that. Indeed, debt division could be affected by any of the following;
- A legally enforceable prenuptial agreement;
- A legally enforceable postnuptial agreement;
- Refinancing of a student loan and the blending of assets; and
- Evidence the student loan benefitted the marriage.
Further, the distribution of a large student loan could alter one spouse’s finances to the point that it could affect child support or spousal support. If you and your partner have significant student loan debt and you are getting divorced, an experienced Texas property division attorney will protect your legal rights and financial interests. Do not get stuck shouldering an unfair share of the marital debt.
Discuss Your Case with a Dallas, TX Property Division Lawyer Today
At Orsinger, Nelson, Downing and Anderson, LLP, our Texas divorce attorneys have the skills and experience needed to handle the full range of property division issues, including debt division. If you have questions or concerns about student loans and divorce, we can help. For a confidential initial consultation, please contact us today at (214) 273-2400. From our offices in Dallas, Frisco, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, we serve clients throughout Texas.