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Are student loans a marital debt during a Missouri divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Property Division |

Separating financial concerns is one of the biggest hurdles that spouses generally need to overcome in a Missouri divorce. Couples combine their bank accounts and acquire property together. One spouse could also take on debt while married that they may have expected to pay with the help of their spouse. It can take weeks to negotiate terms for dividing property.

Many couples preparing for divorce have substantial debts to divide in addition to valuable marital property. Some debts obviously belong to both spouses, such as the mortgage on their home and joint credit card accounts. Other debts may be only in the name of one spouse. Student loans, for example, are typically held in the name of the student who required financial aid. Do both spouses have to share the responsibility for the cost of one spouse’s education?

Timing is a key factor

There are frequently assets and debts that spouses believe are separate property, only to learn that they are marital property. When and why people take on debts are the two main factors that influence whether they are separate or marital property.

In most cases, debts acquired during a marriage are marital debts that both spouses may have a responsibility to pay. The intent behind the debt is also a consideration. Debts taken on for the benefit of the family are often marital debts. Debts taken on to diminish the marital estate or undermine the relationship might be the separate obligation of one spouse.

Student loans usually represent an intention to improve one’s earning potential for the benefit of the family unit. Therefore, student loans that people take out during the marriage are often part of the marital estate.

Oftentimes, such debts can have a significant impact on the overall division of the marital estate. With larger assets and financial obligations in play, divorce can easily become unpredictable. There are numerous different ways to address student loan debt in a property division settlement, making litigated divorce outcomes particularly difficult to predict.

Spouses who learn more about Missouri property division rules may feel more confident when establishing viable divorce goals. Those who focus on their long-term goals may have better overall divorce outcomes than those who let their emotions guide their every decision during divorce.

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