As some Texas residents have experienced, divorce can include the complicated process of dividing assets and debt. And because not all debt is equal, it might be difficult to understand, for example, who is responsible for paying back one of the spouse’s student loans.
The answer to this depends on where the couple lives and when the debt was incurred. Texas is a Community Property state, which means that marital assets and debts are divided equally during divorce. If the school loan was taken out after the marriage took place, then the debt is considered marital debt and both spouses would be responsible for paying it back. However, if the loan was taken out before the marriage took place, then only the spouse taking out the loan would be responsible for paying it back after divorce.
In equitable distribution states, however, assets and debts are divided differently, with the courts reviewing each case and settling on the fairest division. In those cases, the court will consider how the money from the loan was used, what role the other spouse played when it came to their partner seeking a degree, if a degree was earned and each person’s earning power. All of those conditions might affect whether a person is responsible for paying part of the student loans taken out by their ex. However, if the spouses co-signed the loan, then usually both will be responsible for paying it back.
Because separation of assets and debts can be complex, seeking out the guidance of a family law lawyer during the divorce process might be helpful to understand how the process works and what you should expect. A lawyer may explain the state legislation, provide advice about how to proceed and offer representation during negotiations and court appearances.