Who Will Pay Student Loan Debt in a Florida Divorce?
In the state of Florida when two people are going through a divorce the general rule is that any debt that was accumulated during the marriage is going to be equally divided.
This is referred to as equitable distribution and it applies to assets as well as debt.
One issue that comes up very often, however, is where one of the parties to the divorce has accumulated substantial student loans during the marriage abd the other spouse does not want to pay half of that debt.
Am I Responsible For My Spouse’s Student Loan Debt?
There is a common misconception both online and with some divorce attorneys that a student loan debt is treated differently than other marital debt.
This misconception states that because the spouse who did not go to school gets no benefit from the student loan debt, that they are somehow not responsible for that debt.
The equitable distribution statute in Florida, as well as the appellate court case law, states very differently.
It is well-settled law in Florida that student loan debt, even where the other spouse gets no benefit from it, is a marital debt.
This means that even if you do not leave the marriage with the benefit of the education, you are still responsible for half of that debt.
Are there any ways I can avoid responsibility for my spouse’s student loan debt?
The portion of the Florida statute that addresses equitable distribution of debts does create some argument for avoiding responsibility in certain limited circumstances.
There are certain factors that the court can take into consideration when looking at dividing debt. Your Orlando divorce attorney will be able to examine these factors with you in great detail.
One of these is the financial situation of the parties. This means that if you are the lesser earning spouse in a divorce and your spouse has substantial student loan debt and they are in a better financial position to pay for, then you can request that the court distribute more than half to them and a lower percentage to you.
Though this is an option the court is not required to engage in this unequal distribution of liabilities.
It is advisable to consider a prenuptial agreement before you get married if your spouse is planning to further their education during the marriage.
Another consideration is the fact that even though you may be responsible for a portion of the student loan debt of your spouse they will likely be in a better earning position having had the education. This means that any alimony or child support that they would owe would be higher which overtime may offset your out-of-pocket for the debt.
If you are going through a divorce and have questions about division of liabilities call our of us today at 407-574-6155