Will you have to help pay your ex’s student loan debt?

Financial issues can put significant strain on your marriage. Having more debt than you can pay off in full every month or within the next few years is a difficult position to be in, even if there are two incomes. For some couples, significant debt will eventually create so much friction in the relationship that they file for divorce.

Whether financial issues were the cause of your divorce or not, you may worry about what financial responsibilities you will have after your marriage ends. For example, if your spouse has tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, you might worry that you will have to help pay those loans rather than washing your hands of them after the divorce.

Could you be responsible for debts only in your ex’s name?

The timing and intent of the debt determine what happens

Although a student loan is usually only in the name of the student, sometimes with a parent as a cosigner, that does not automatically mean that the debt is the separate property of the student pursuing a degree. Connecticut applies the equitable distribution rule to belongings and debts.

Most of your financial obligations from during the marriage are part of your shared marital estate. You and your spouse have financial responsibility to repay those debts, even if a specific account is only in one spouse’s name. However, the intent at the time someone assumed the debt matters as well.

If one spouse opens a credit card without telling the other and then uses that card to pay for hotels and fancy nights out while conducting an adulterous affair, their spouse will likely have no obligation to help repay those debts. If your ex went back to school with the intention of supporting your family unit, then the student loans that they signed for during your marriage could ultimately be part of your marital estate and factored into the division of other property.

You can negotiate and settle to avoid certain outcomes

For most couples, it will be more cost-effective and less stressful to settle property division matters outside of the Connecticut family courts. When you directly negotiate a settlement with your ex, you can reach any terms that you agree are appropriate, including having them retain sole responsibility for their personal student loan debt.

Having a workable understanding of the rules that govern property division in Connecticut divorces will help you prepare for property division negotiations for your day in court.