Unlike many debts consumers hold, a student loan debt is held in one person’s name only even if the borrower is married at the time the loan is applied for and received.
However, the mere fact that only one spouse’s name appears on a student loan does not mean that person alone must repay the debt after he or she gets divorced. In some situations, the borrower’s spouse may be responsible for some or all of the loan debt post-divorce.
Loan timing relative to the marriage
One factor that may determine who must repay a student loan debt after a divorce relates to timing. Loans received before a couple got married are more likely to remain the responsibility of the borrower according to U.S. News and World Report.
It is loans that were applied for and received by married students that may be deemed shared debts during a divorce.
Use of loan funds
Funds received from a student loan may be paid directly to a college or university to pay for tuition and other related attendance fees, such as technology or lab costs. Funds received from a student loan may also be used to pay for a student’s basic living expenses, including rent and food. As explained by Student Loan Hero, when a married borrower uses student loan money for their living expenses, the spouse can be said to benefit as well. For this reason, the spouse may be considered at least partially responsible for the debt.
Another factor that may factor into whether both spouses must share student loan debt responsibility include the overall earning power of each partner.