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Are you on the hook for your ex’s student loans?

Separating finances presents challenges for every family facing a divorce. The laws are different in every state, which adds to the confusion. What a friend or family member experienced in their divorce may not apply at all to yours. In Georgia, the law for property division requires equitable distribution.

The judge presiding over the divorce has the power to make decisions that they think are fair given your circumstances. Responsibilities will include familiarizing themselves with your family circumstances and arranging for the division of your assets and debts.

For many modern couples, student loans are the biggest source of debt other than secured loans, like car loans and mortgages. Couples may even end up divorcing because of the pressure that their student loans cause for their household budgets. Will you have an obligation to help your ex repay their student loans after a divorce?

The timing and purpose of the debt affect its division

Some debts are obviously separate property because one spouse already owed the money before they got married. Most debts that either of you take on during the marriage, even debt only held in one of your names, will be part of your marital estate. That means that both of you may have an obligation to help repay those debts when you divorce.

Credit card balances and even student loans can play a role in property division during a divorce. Provided that the purpose of the debt was to support the family or improve its circumstances and that the debt originated during the marriage, a judge may factor a couple’s debts into how they split other property.

Can you exclude certain debts from the divorce?

If you and your spouse have a marital agreement that talks about your debt or property, they may be solely responsible for their own educational debt. You can also potentially negotiate a property settlement before you go to court that excludes certain debts or belongings. Mediation and collaborative negotiations may give you more of an opportunity to control the exact terms of the property division order.

Learning more about the rules that govern property division can make it easier to prepare for your divorce.